James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews tallied power-play goals while Frederik Andersen made 29 saves Thursday night as Toronto edged Nashville 3-1 at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.
In upping their record to 37-24-15, the Maple Leafs maintained a one-point lead over Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division, with six games left. Meanwhile, the Predators (39-27-11) remained a point behind St. Louis for third place in the Central Division.
It was expected to be a high-powered affair with two of the league’s highest-scoring teams, but no one found the net’s backside until 18:42 of the first period. That’s when van Riemsdyk deflected a point blast from Nikita Zaitsev under Pekka Rinne’s arm for his 24th goal of the season.
Matthews potted the eventual game-winner on another power play at 18:43, a wrister from the high slot that plunked off Rinne and bounced into the net. It was the 36th goal for Matthews, extending his franchise rookie record.
Nashville got on the board at 9:37 of the third period as Filip Forsberg wired a wrister by Andersen for his 30th goal, making him the first player in franchise history to reach that milestone two seasons in a row.
But Andersen (31-15-14) stood tall after that, making five saves on the Predators’ fifth power play, shortly after Forsberg’s marker. That included a stop of Kevin Fiala’s tip try on a slapper with his arm, the puck stopping inches from the goal line.
Nashville pulled Rinne for a sixth attacker with just over two minutes…
click here to read more.