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Third Period Rally Falls Short

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs



TORONTO -- Filip Forsberg's first career hat trick helped the Predators continue their dominance of Canadian NHL teams on Tuesday night.

Forsberg's three-goal game helped Nashville beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at the Air Canada Centre. Nashville improved to 11-1-3 in its last 15 games against teams based in Canada, while also picking up points on the road for the ninth-straight game (7-0-2) - the longest such stretch in franchise history.

Carter Hutton stopped 25-of-27 shots to earn the win in net for the Predators (29-21-11). James Reimer made 23 saves for the Leafs (20-28-10).

Josh Leivo and Morgan Rielly scored for Toronto.

Nashville has outscored Canadian foes 47-28 during the 15-game string of dominance. They won Tuesday without captain Shea Weber, who is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Weber played nearly 29 minutes in Montreal on Monday night.

Forsberg has enjoyed a dominant February scoring nine goals in 11 games. The 21-year-old has 23 goals this season, overtaking James Neal for control of the team lead with Tuesday's performance.

He scored in a variety of fashions against the Maple Leafs.

Forsberg broke free of the Toronto defence for his first goal, beating Reimer in alone on an early first period power play. He added his second when Craig Smith lifted a Reimer hand-off behind the Leafs net, sneaking a shot through the goaltender's pads. He completed the hat trick with a point shot rebound.

Nashville, which holds the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, last lost in regulation on the road on Jan. 12. The club is 9-3-3 in its last 15 games overall.

The Leafs, meanwhile, continue to languish with an ever-depleted lineup.

Toronto, which is already dealing with injuries to a number of key players, dealt away forwards Shawn Matthias and Nick Spaling and defenceman Roman Polak in recent days.

All-star forward Leo Komarov sat out the second game of a three-game suspension and is expected to return Saturday when the Maple Leafs visit the Canadiens in Montreal.

With 301 career NHL games, Jake Gardiner was the most experienced Toronto defeceman against the Predators.

The Leafs have lost 16 of their last 20 games (4-13-3) and sit last in the NHL with 50 points.

Toronto went down 3-0 before inching their way back. The club won a coach's challenge on a Ryan Ellis goal that was deemed to be offside and then scored twice in the third period - on goals from Leivo and Rielly - to make it 3-2.

Reimer has allowed 19 goals in his last five starts, holding an .823 save percentage in that stretch.

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