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game recap

Maple Leafs gain on second in Atlantic

Defeat Predators to help case in division race

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- The Toronto Maple Leafs moved within two points of second place in the Atlantic Division with a 3-1 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.

The Maple Leafs (37-24-15) trail the Ottawa Senators by two points for second and lead the Boston Bruins by one point for third. The Senators lost 5-1 to the Minnesota Wild, and the Bruins defeated the Dallas Stars 2-0.

"All we talk about is getting ready for today," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We'll do today and then we've got another game here coming up, and that's how we do it. If we just look after our own part, everything else will look after itself."


WATCH: All Maple Leafs vs. Predators highlights


The Maple Leafs and Senators each have six games remaining, one more than the Bruins.

James van Riemsdyk, Auston Matthews and Connor Brown scored, and Frederik Andersen made 29 saves for the Maple Leafs, who have won two games in a row and five of six.

The Predators (39-27-11) remain in the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, 10 points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings. They trail the St. Louis Blues by one point for third place in the Central Division.

Van Riemsdyk scored on the power play to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead with 1:18 left in the first period.

Mitchell Marner's assist on van Riemsdyk's goal was his 41st, setting a Maple Leafs record for most by a rookie. The previous record was set by Gus Bodnar in 1943-44.

"It's pretty cool," Marner said. "Obviously, it's nice to do it in a win. I didn't really do much, kind of got it up to [Zaitsev] and he got the shot through. It's definitely pretty cool, growing up in that city and watching the team for my whole life."

Matthews gave the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead when he scored on the power play with 1:17 left in the second period. He took a pass from Brown and beat Rinne for his 36th goal, most by an NHL rookie this season.

"These games have kind of been a struggle for us at the beginning of the year, especially against good teams," Matthews said. "At this point of the season, being able to close out a close game like tonight is definitely a positive sign for us and something we'll take moving forward."

Filip Forsberg scored to get the Predators within 2-1 at 9:37 of the third period on a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle. He took a drop pass from Ryan Johansen and beat Andersen for his 30th goal.

"We were in one-goal reach and obviously played better in the third," Forsberg said. "We got a couple of chances that we just [couldn't] finish off, and it's frustrating for sure."

Brown scored into an empty net with 59 seconds remaining to make it 3-1.

Andersen returned after missing one game with a jaw injury.

Goal of the game

Van Riemsdyk helped win the puck in the right corner of the Predators zone before going to the right of the net, below the faceoff circle, to redirect Zaitsev's shot-pass between his legs and under Rinne's left pad.

Video: TOR@NSH: van Riemsdyk nets tip-in for PPG


Save of the game

Andersen made a left-pad save on Mike Fisher from the slot at 10:58 of the third period to keep Toronto ahead 2-1.

Unsung performance of the game

The Toronto penalty kill limited Nashville to one shot on goal in its first four power plays.

Highlight of the game

Brown passed the puck around Johansen's stick and hit Matthews in stride for a shot past Rinne from the left circle.

Video: TOR@NSH: Matthews beats Rinne for a power-play goal


They said it

"We play fearless and we play fast. We were playing in their end for the majority, and obviously special teams helped a lot too." -- Maple Leafs forward Connor Brown


"Five-on-5, we were pretty good. We weren't able to score, so that's the one thing that we'll [take] away. The chances had to be probably 3-1 in our favor, lots of looks, lots of opportunities. Defensively, we were real tight. The game was decided in the specialty teams. We knew that going into it." -- Predators coach Peter Laviolette


Need to know

Laviolette coached his 1,000th NHL game. He is 516-361-98 with 25 ties with the Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. … The Maple Leafs are 9-2-1 in their past 12 games. … Matthews was 12-for-16 (75.0 percent) on faceoffs. … Predators forward Craig Smith missed the game with an upper-body injury. … Fisher returned to the lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury.


What's next

Maple Leafs: At the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, FS-D, NHL.TV)

Predators: Host the Minnesota Wild on Saturday (2 p.m. ET; FS-TN, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV)


Video: Andersen, Matthews lead Leafs past Preds, 3-1 

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