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Sweet Music For Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Matthew Iaboni

January 18, 2010
Sommet Center
Nashville, TN
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3 0 1 4
0 1 2 3

The Leafs had led 3-0 after the first and 3-1 after 40. But the Predators came back with two in the third as the Leafs like to make things interesting for themselves.

With just 5:48 to go in the third, Phil Kessel took the Nikolai Kulemin feed and whistled a low wrister past Dan Ellis for the game winner and his first goal in nine games. Kessel extended his point streak to five games where he has now picked up six points.

11 Games without a goal for Niklas Hagman before Monday in Nashville.
1 Win for the Leafs in Nashville. They are the last team to pick up a win in Nashville.
5 Times this season that the Leafs have jumped out to a 3-0 lead.
13-5 Third period shots in favour of the Predators.
3 Goals on eight Leafs' shots on Pekka Rinne in the first period.
1st Star
Alexei Ponikarovsky
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +2 1
2nd Star
Dan Ellis
13 14 1 50:50 .928
3rd Star
Cody Franson
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 2
Caption This

The Leafs jumped out to a quick lead in the first thanks to some great defensive play from Alexei Ponikarovsky. He caused the first Predators' turnover which led to Niklas Hagman's goal. On his goal, Ponikarovsky stole the puck from Martin Erat and he used his big frame to fend off the a defenceman and chip the puck past Pekka Rinne.

Ponikarovsky's 16th goal of the year puts him on pace for a career high in goals which would surpass last year's total of 23.

By his own admission, Luke Schenn hasn't had the season he had hoped but he has started to put together a few strong games and against the Predators it was one of his better performances.

Schenn recorded an assist and he tied his season best with a plus two rating while also blocking a season high of four shots. Schenn has seemed to be gaining confidence as the season has progressed and his play has greatly improved from the beginning of the year.

The Leafs may have finally figured it out that it isn't how many shots you get but what you do with the your chances

Heading into Monday's game the Leafs led the league with a 34.1 average per game. Against the Predators the Leafs only fired 22 shots at Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis but scored four goals.

Ron Wilson on the importance of Luke Schenn in the win over Nashville:

"The one guy I thought had his best game of the year was Luke Schenn and we could really lean on him at the end of the game. In the last 10 minutes he made all kinds of good plays and decisions with the puck and I'm happy he's starting to play better.”

Tuesday January 19 @ Thrashers
  7 PM ET (Leafs TV, AM640)

Game Notes:
The Leafs and Thrashers both close out back-to-backs with their second meeting of the season. The Thrashers lost 1-0 in Florida on Monday.

Toronto took the first game between the two this season 5-2 at the ACC.

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