Nashville Predators 6, Toronto Maple Leafs 3: Saros stalwart, Forsberg smashes record in win

The Preds put in some effort tonight and got a fun and exciting win out of it.

The Nashville Predators returned home, hoping to rebound from a rough last-minute loss to the Philadelphia Flyers against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Preds got out to a strong start, getting some great chances early and mostly limiting the quality of the Leafs’ return attempts. Matt Duchene set Filip Forsberg up for a great chance, but Forsberg wasn’t able to convert.

Instead, about fourteen minutes in, Tanner Jeannot picked up a pass from Colton Sissons and put his 21st of the season past Leafs goalie Erik Kallgren to put the Preds up 1-0. While the Preds had a good start to the next shift, continuing to attack, that momentum came to a halt. Mitch Marner collided with Ryan Johansen, knocking him down, before getting cross-checked down to the ice by Duchene in turn.

A TV timeout fortunately allowed the refs to review the call: Johansen was initially the one dragged off to the bin of shame. After the break Duchene was (correctly) the one seen sitting there. Marner, who had been rocking back and forth on the ice as if seriously injured before the penalty was called, was well enough to start out on the power play for the Leafs and looked perfectly fine doing so.

Jeannot tried to break in shorthanded, but was unable to make the play. Juuse Saros made the saves he was called on to make, and Duchene got possession as he left the penalty box but the Preds were unable to get the shot off.

Just after that, Justin Holl hauled Duchene down crossing the offensive blueline, with Duchene giving himself a little help along the way, and the Preds were given a power play of their own. Josi and Forsberg had to break up a shorthanded chance by Marner, and the Leafs were able to kill off the penalty in turn.

Neither team scored again before the end of the first, though the Leafs threatened late. The second period picked up where the first had begun, with some offense from the Leafs, before Jeremy Davies—called up from Milwaukee for tonight’s game—made a long shot pass and Eeli Tolvanen tipped it to give the Preds a two-goal lead.

Before the arena had even heard the goal announcement, Saros had to make a great blocker save on a deflection. Jason Spezza tripped Michael McCarron as they both went for the loose puck, and the Preds went back to the power play. Once again, Marner went in shorthanded, but Roman Josi was able to break up the two-on-one perfectly and the Preds went back up ice.

Forsberg had another fantastic opportunity, but a block from Holl prevented the goal. The Leafs once again killed the penalty. Ondrej Kase went down to the ice in pain after a collision with Duchene at the Leafs’ blueline, and Duchene went on to get a fantastic chance at net, but Kallgren made the save. As soon as the Leafs touched up—almost immediately after—the refs stopped play so Kase could get off the ice safely.

The Preds continued to press, but unfortunately when the Leafs finally counterattacked they were able to get a much-needed clear and Marner finally got himself on the board, reducing the Preds’ lead to 2-1. Invigorated, the Leafs resumed their attack.

A TV timeout gave the Preds a chance to catch their breaths, and after the break Mattias Ekholm scored on an absolute rocket of a shot from against the boards. The Leafs countered again, but Austin Matthews rang iron and Saros was able to make a save on William Nylander, with Davies helping his goalie out by preventing a follow-up chance.

Ryan Johansen took an interference penalty with a little over twelve minutes elapsed in the period, and Yakov Trenin and Mikael Granlund combined for a good shorthanded chance before the Leafs got back into the Preds’ zone. An aggressive penalty kill helped the Preds kill it off, and they went back on the attack.

However, the Leafs quickly regrouped. The Preds spent what felt like several years hemmed in their own zone by the Leafs’ top six as the period wound to a close, and when they finally broke out Johansen took his second penalty of the period, a cross-check against Matthews. With 1.7 seconds left in the period, Matthews hit another crossbar, the puck deflected out of play, and the Leafs pulled Kallgren for a 6-on-4.

Saros had to make several more absolutely massive saves after intermission, though Jeannot did get another brief shorthanded chance, and the Preds were able to kill off the penalty but not get out of their own zone. Three and a half minutes in, they finally got out briefly, but not long enough—chased back to their own end, they gave up a second goal after a turnover. Saros made a spectacular stop on Matthews’s initial shot, but wasn’t able to get the rebound and had no help in doing so, which let Marner score again.

The Preds seemed to respond, but Forsberg had collided with Holl, knocking him into the net and Kallgren. The net was knocked off the pegs, and Kallgren went down to the ice and stayed there, but after a long moment he was able to get up and resume his place in net.

Startlingly, moments after that, when Duchene went in on the counterattack, Kallgren came out almost to the circles and cleared the puck over the glass, sending the Preds back to the power play. The Leafs killed it off efficiently and went back on the attack, with yet another post rung—this one by Spezza.

With over half the period gone, the Preds finally located the offensive zone. Kallgren made a fantastic save on Duchene, and as the Leafs tried to break back in Alexandre Carrier drew a retaliatory jersey-grab from Kyle Clifford.

On this power play opportunity, Forsberg scored to move into sole possession of the franchise’s all-time goalscoring record, previously held by David Legwand (with 210). About two minutes later, a nice breakout for the Preds (with some great work by Josi) and a rebound on a Forsberg shot allowed Duchene to pounce on the rebound and give the Preds a 5-2 lead.

The Leafs pulled Kallgren with around five minutes remaining, and John Tavares scored to make it 5-3 Preds. Jeannot and Ekholm both tried for the empty net, but Jeannot missed and Ekholm wasn’t able to get the shot off. The Leafs continued to press, including a sharp move by Marner to delay before the two-minute faceoff to get a new glove and allow the Leafs’ top players a little bit of rest.

With 51.1 seconds left in the period, Trenin scored the empty-netter to give the Preds a 6-3 lead. Somehow, the Preds’ net came off the pegs in this process, which led to another delay before the faceoff. Undaunted, the Leafs continued to attack, though they did return Kallgren to his net.