Nylander scores in fourth straight, Leafs beat Predators 5-2
“I liked that through different periods of the game, I thought we did a really nice job of doing the things that we wanted to do,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “In a game like this, you’re not really sure what you are going to get coming off that type of a break.”
Mikael Granlund and Viktor Arvidsson scored for Nashville, which has lost of three of four.
Both teams played their first game in more than a week after their bye week and the league’s All-Star break.
“We’ve got to do a better job of understanding that you’re not always going to have the lead,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “You’ve got to have pushback in games, a little bit more mental fortitude and consistency in what we’re doing and consistency throughout our lineup.”
Nylander scored first at 4:13 of the opening period, giving him a goal in four straight games. From deep inside the Toronto zone, Sandin lofted a long pass to Nylander down the middle of the ice. Nylander corralled the puck just outside the blue line, skated in alone against goalie Pekka Rinne and beat him with a low wrist shot.
Rinne finished with 26 saves.
Granlund tied it 40 seconds later. Granlund began a breakout from the Nashville zone and sent a pass to Matt Duchene on the left side. Duchene sent a pass back to Granlund in the low slot, where he snapped one past Andersen on the short side.
Hyman made it 2-1 at 7:12 of the first when he tapped in a rebound of Mitch Marner’s shot from the right side.
Sandin’s first career goal gave the Maple Leafs a 3-1 lead at 4:41 of the second.
“I’m going to remember that for the rest of my life for sure,” the 19-year-old Sandin said. “It was a great feeling.”
Spezza followed at 12:17 of the second with his seventh goal of the season, just six seconds after a Toronto power play expired.
“Coming out of a break can be difficult games,” Spezza said. “I thought it was a good match for our team just coming out and getting the lead. I thought we controlled play for a lot of the time.”
Arvidsson scored on a rebound of Mattias Ekholm’s shot at 12:52 of the third to halve Toronto’s lead.
“The last 10 minutes, I thought we had a good push, I mean we scored a goal,” Predators captain Roman Josi said. “We had some chances after that, but it’s got to be 60 minutes. It’s a really good team over there. You’re not going to win a game playing the first period and the last 10 minutes.”
Matthews scored an empty-net goal late.
NOTES: Toronto RW Kasperi Kapanen left the game in the first period with an arm injury and did not return. ... Spezza has 31 points in 32 career games against Nashville. ... Granlund and Arvidsson both have goals in two of their last three games. ... The Predators have scored just one power-play goal in their last six games.
Maple Leafs: Visit Dallas on Wednesday night.
Predators: Visit Washington on Wednesday night.