One Hot Streak Will End in Predators-Leafs Matchup: Nashville’s

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 4:34 PM UTC

Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 4:34 PM UTC

Short slate in the NHL on Wednesday with only three games, and the lone matchup that features two current playoff teams is Nashville visiting Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET).

Nashville Predators at Toronto Maple LeafsFree NHL Pick: Maple LeafsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Three games on Wednesday’s NHL slate and they all begin at different times – the first is a 7:30 p.m. ET puck drop from Air Canada Centre as Nashville makes its only visit of the season to Toronto. No American national TV (unless you have NHL Center Ice) but it’s on TSN in Canada.

It’s the first meeting of the season between the Predators and Maple Leafs, with Toronto heading to Country Music Town on March 22. The Leafs won both last season, 6-2 at home and 3-1 in Nashville. James van Riemsdyk led all Toronto players with five points (four goals), while Tyler Bozak and Mitch Marner each had four points. Auston Matthews was held to one point, a goal. Frederik Andersen was in net for both and had a 1.51 goals-against average and .953 save percentage. Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson each had two points to lead the Predators. No. 1 goaltender Pekka Rinne started in only the 3-1 loss and one goal allowed wasn’t on him as it was an empty-netter.

The road team is 6-2 in the past eight meetings.

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ICYMI: The captain wins it in overtime. 👊@EASPORTSNHL

— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) February 6, 2018

Both Clubs Playing Well

It’s possible these two could both win their respective division, although I don’t see Atlantic third-place Toronto catching the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nashville is battling Winnipeg for the Central Division lead, with St. Louis and Dallas still in the mix. The Preds are +120 favorites to win it at Sports Interaction.

The Predators enter on a three-game winning streak -- 9-1-2 in the past 12 games -- and have scored exactly five goals in each. They were 5-4 OT winners at the Islanders on Monday. Johansen tied it in the final minute of regulation and Roman Josi won it at 3:47 of overtime. Rinne won his eighth straight game to improve to 27-8-3 with a 2.32 GAA and.926 save percentage.

Nashville’s second-leading scorer, left wing Filip Forsberg (16 goals, 22 assists), began a three-game suspension on Monday. He was dinged by the league office for interference on Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey in Saturday’s game. Colton Sissons largely replaced him on the top line with Johansen and Arvidsson on Monday.

Toronto won for the fifth time in six games Monday, 7-4 over the visiting Ducks – the Leafs’ most goals scored since the same score in a win at Arizona on Dec. 28. Matthews had two goals and an assist. He was the No. 2 star with William Nylander the No. 1 with two goals and an assist of his own. Jake Gardiner also had a three-point night with three assists.

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“Fortunately it hasn’t happened this year so it’s nice to step into an opportunity like that and get the win for him.” - @McElhinney_C30


— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 6, 2018

The news wasn’t all good as No. 1 netminder Andersen was forced out in the second period after taking a skate to the head from Ducks forward Corey Perry. Curtis McElhinney took over in goal and stopped 15 of 16 shots. The team appears to have dodged a bullet as Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after the game that Andersen was fine. Perhaps he gets this game off, though.

Even if Andersen sits, I like the Leafs to continue rolling here as McElhinney actually has a better GAA (2.27) and SV (.932) on the season. Toronto has won five of its past six at home vs. clubs with a winning road record. Nashville didn’t miss Forsberg on Monday but will here. Take the Leafs as your NHL pick.

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