TORONTO - Jonathan Bernier lasted all of 20 minutes while Pekka Rinne continued his early-season dominance as the Nashville Predators hammered the Toronto Maple Leafs 9-2 at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday.
The Maple Leafs goaltender, who had allowed only three goals in his previous two starts, gave up that many in the first period alone — two of them to Taylor Beck — before he was relieved by James Reimer to start the second.
That didn't seem to matter much, however, as the Predators added one in the second period and four in the final 20 minutes, handing the Leafs their third straight loss.
Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Roman Josi, Eric Nystrom, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy and Colin Wilson all had goals for Nashville (11-4-2).
Mike Santorelli and Nazem Kadri scored in the third period for Toronto (9-7-2), but the Leafs were already trailing 8-0 at that point. Bernier gave up three goals on 12 shots in the first period. Reimer allowed up six goals on 25 shots in 40 minutes of work.
Coming off an ugly defeat to the lowly Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, Toronto was flat out of the gate against the Predators and couldn't muster much in the way of meaningful offence until the game was far out of reach.
Nashville, meanwhile, came out gunning and scored the game's first goal less than two minutes after puck drop.
Beck had his first of the period after he chased down a loose puck in the Maple Leafs' zone and let loose a quick wrister that beat Bernier blocker side for the early 1-0 Predators lead.
Roy scored his first of the season midway through the period before Beck scored his second of the night — and third of the year — to put the normally defensively minded Predators up 3-0 after a period.
That was the end of the night for Bernier, who was replaced by Reimer when the Maple Leafs took the ice for the second period.
Reimer turned aside 13 of 14 Nashville shots in the second, but couldn't stop Nystrom, who went top shelf on a 2-on-1 with 1:15 remaining in the period to make it 4-0 Nashville heading into the third.
That's when things went from bad to worse for Reimer and the Maple Leafs.
In a span of just over five minutes, the Predators, who are now 6-2 in eight games this month, scored four times to increase their lead to 8-0, putting the game well out of reach
Toronto showed signs of life later on in the third, scoring twice in a two-minute span thanks Santorelli and Kadri, but that was as close as they would come.
Wilson scored the game's final goal at 17:28 of the third.