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Maple Leafs at Predators preview

Nashville looks to close gap on Central lead; Toronto tries to climb in Atlantic

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

MAPLE LEAFS (43-24-5) at PREDATORS (41-27-5)

8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-TN, TSN4, NHL.TV

 

The Game

The Nashville Predators will try to tighten the race for first place in the Central Division when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday.

The Predators, who have won two straight and are 4-2-0 in their past six games, trail the idle Winnipeg Jets by three points for the division lead; the Jets have one game in hand. 

The Maple Leafs, 1-3-0 in their past four games after going 6-1-1 in their previous eight games, trail the Boston Bruins by four points for second place in the Atlantic Division.

Forward Kasperi Kapanen, who missed four games because of a concussion, is expected to return to the Toronto lineup. The 22-year-old, who has 42 points (19 goals, 23 assists) in 68 games this season, was injured during a 3-2 loss at the Edmonton Oilers on March 9.

 

Players to watch

Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews has six points (four goals, two assists) in a four-game point streak and is two points shy of 200 in the NHL.

Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson, with 31 goals in 49 games, needs one goal to set an NHL career-high for goals in a season; he also had 31 goals in 2016-17.

 

They said it

"It's a good team we're playing tonight. It's important that we're ready. We've gone over video. We've had our meetings. Now, it's kind of up to us to make sure we do whatever we have to do to prepare, make sure we're ready to play. A good measuring stick for us tonight." -- Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly

"We had two good games out of a three-game trip so it was good. … It's nice to see us elevate our game, especially because we weren't happy with how it was going prior to that." -- Predators forward Brian Boyle on victories against the Los Angeles Kings (3-1 on Thursday) and San Jose Sharks (4-2 on Saturday)

 

Maple Leafs projected lineup

Zach Hyman -- John Tavares -- Mitchell Marner

Andreas Johnsson -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Patrick Marleau -- Nazem Kadri -- Kasperi Kapanen

Connor Brown -- Nic Petan -- Trevor Moore

Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey

Jake Muzzin -- Nikita Zaitsev

Martin Marincin -- Justin Holl

Frederik Andersen

Garret Sparks

Scratched: Igor Ozhiganov, Tyler Ennis

Injured: Jake Gardiner (back), Travis Dermott (shoulder), Frederik Gauthier (foot)

 

Predators projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Mikael Granlund -- Nick Bonino -- Wayne Simmonds

Calle Jarnkrok -- Colton Sissons -- Craig Smith

Brian Boyle -- Kyle Turris -- Rocco Grimaldi

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Scratched: Austin Watson, Cody McLeod, Matt Donovan, Frederick Gaudreau

Injured: Miikka Salomaki (upper body), Dan Hamhuis (lower body), Zac Rinaldo (shoulder)

 

Status report

The Maple Leafs held a team meeting Tuesday. … The Predators held an optional morning skate.

 

Stat pack

Tavares, who has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games, has 15 points (10 goals, five assists) in 13 games against Nashville. … Simmonds has 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 26 games against Toronto.

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