Leafs end two-game losing streak with win over Predators

Jake Carter
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Monday, January 27, 2020


Nashville, TN – The Leafs entered their game against the Predators with just one win in their last six games. They needed a solid effort in their first game back after an eight-day break, and they got it.

Toronto had five different goal-scorers – including Rasmus Sandin’s first career NHL goal – in a 5-2 victory over Nashville on Monday night.

Sandin, William Nylander, and Zach Hyman each scored and had an assist in the win.

Before the national anthems, the Predators held a moment of silence to honour NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others that passed away in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Less than five minutes into the game, Toronto opened the scoring.

Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin lofted the puck from his own goal line and found forward William Nylander in the neutral zone. Nylander skated in alone on Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne and found the back of the net to make it 1-0.

With that goal, Nylander set a new career-high with his 23rd of the season. It also marked the fourth-straight game where he's scored.

But just 40 seconds later, Nashville responded. Forward Mikael Granlund took a pass from Matt Duchene on a 3-on-1 and beat Toronto goaltender Frederik Andersen to tie the game at 1-1.

It didn’t take long for the Leafs to respond in a hectic start to the first period. Just over two minutes later, Leafs forward Zach Hyman collected a rebound in front of Rinne and put it past the goaltender to give his team the 2-1 lead.

Andersen, who wore his new CN Tower themed pads that he debuted at the all-star game, had to be sharp in the first period. Nashville outshot Toronto 15-10 in the frame.

Andersen made 34 saves in the win and is now 9-2-0 in his career against Nashville.

Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen left the game in the first period with an arm injury and did not return.

With 15:19 left in the second period, Sandin got on the board for his first NHL goal. The puck came to him at the point and he made no mistake, shooting it off the crossbar and in to make it 3-1. The back of the net was lifted off the ice but remained on its moorings, so the goal stood.

Sandin’s first goal came in his tenth game this season. With it being his tenth game, that means that he’s burned the first year of his three-year entry-level contract.

The Leafs received the first man-advantage of the game with 9:49 left in the period, as Predators forward Nick Bonino went off for hooking.

Just after the powerplay ended, Toronto added to its lead.

Forward Jason Spezza took a pass from defenceman Justin Holl and beat Rinne glove-side to extend the Toronto lead to three goals.

With that goal, Toronto has now scored four or more goals in 15 of its last 20 games. It's also the seventh straight road game that the Leafs have scored four or more.

Shortly after, the Leafs had another chance. Forward Pierre Engvall had a breakaway on Rinne, but the goaltender made the initial stop and the rebound to keep the game at 4-1.

Rinne finished the game with 26 saves.

With 3:23 left in the period, Holl went to the box for interference.

Shortly into the penalty kill, Andersen made an unbelievable save on Nashville forward Kyle Turris. Andersen read the play perfectly and moved post-to-post to rob him with his right pad. To make matters worse for Turris, he took a hooking penalty on Toronto forward Mitch Marner on the same play.

Neither team scored on their man-advantage, and the second period ended with the Leafs in the lead at 4-1.

Engvall had a great second period with numerous scoring chances but couldn’t get on the scoresheet.

With 7:08 remaining in the final period, Nashville cut the lead to 4-2. Andersen stopped a point shot from Predators defenceman Matthias Ekholm but couldn’t stop forward Viktor Arvidsson on the rebound.

The Predators heavily controlled the play after Arvidsson’s goal and pulled Rinne for the extra attacker with just over two minutes to play.

Leafs forward Auston Matthews scored his 35th goal of the season into the empty net for his 19th goal in his last 20 games.

Toronto travels to Dallas for their next game on Wednesday night. It will mark the first meeting of the season between the two teams.