Predators-Maple Leafs Preview
The Toronto Maple Leafs hope they find more comfort at home than they did during their one-game road trip.
They open a three-game stretch at Air Canada Centre against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night looking to erase the memory of a humbling 6-2 loss at Buffalo over the weekend.
The Sabres entered Saturday’s contest averaging 1.22 goals and 22.9 shots – both of which rank last in the NHL – and proceeded to torch the Maple Leafs for season highs in goals and shots with 35.
"We didn’t play very well," coach Randy Carlyle told the Leafs’ official website. "I’m very disappointed in the way we played. Very frustrated the way we played."
Toronto (9-7-2) has lost two in a row, totaling three goals after scoring 16 during the three-game win streak that preceded the defeats.
"We’ve been playing some very good hockey and I think for our team the bottom line is we have to move forward," defenseman Dion Phaneuf said. "It’s no reason to sit in there and panic about it. We didn’t play well enough, hold our head high for next week.
"Tonight’s over, there’s nothing we can do about it, we move forward."
The Leafs will try to do so against a typically stingy Predators team that’s succeeding through its defensive play. Nashville (11-4-2) has allowed fewer than 30 shots on goal in the last four games and 11 of 17 times this season.
The Predators’ 2.0 goals allowed per game is tied for second in the league.
"I was happy to see the way we came out and played defensively," coach Peter Laviolette said following a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg on Saturday – the 400th of his career. "We kept pushing, and even when the game was tied, we were throwing shots at the net."
James Neal scored his ninth goal of the season. Rookie Filip Forsberg will be looking to get back on track after having his six-game goal streak snapped.
The Predators also play at Ottawa on Thursday before returning home.
"It’ll be nice to have a break and go up north and east to play some Canadian teams," center Mike Ribeiro said. "It’s always nice to play teams like the Leafs … We’ll take it one game at a time, but we know we have to play better against those teams if we want to win."
Pekka Rinne will likely start for Nashville. He’s posted a 1.92 goals against average in 15 games this season, but allowed four goals on 26 shots in a 4-0 loss in his last matchup with Toronto on Oct. 10, 2013.
Rinne’s counterpart is again expected to be Jonathan Bernier, who made 36 saves in that contest and is 8-2-0 with a 1.91 GAA in 10 career starts against Nashville.
The Predators have won two of the past three meetings with the Leafs.