Predators fall asleep at the wheel, get torched by Leafs 5-2
by Jackson Walsh
The hot streak has finally cooled. Everything that was electric and easy going about the Nashville Predators point streak the past 15 games was doused with cold water like an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Thursday with a 5-2 slashing at the hands of the Maple Leafs.
From the opening puck drop, Toronto came ready to play both on and off the ice. Spectators in royal blue sweaters made their grand entrance into Bridgestone Arena and made their presence known with the ever popular “Go Leafs Go” chant about five seconds into the contest.
Also from the get go, Toronto played terrific end to end hockey, winning nearly every puck battle and getting a lot of playing time around Rinne. The Predators went a whole four minutes without registering a shot on goal and Toronto’s constant pressure in the offensive zone paid off early, when 4:03 into the game, James Van Riemsdyk opened the scoring off the stick of a diving Josi through the five hole of Rinne. Leafs 1, Preds 0.
After the Preds seemed nearly powerless for a seemingly indeterminate amount of time, not being able to find many openings at all in the offensive zone, they did find a lane 5:42 into the second period when Viktor Arvidsson received a pass from P.K. Subban right in front of Anderson for a quick one timer to tie the game. 1-1.
What ensued from there was much frustration and agony not experienced by Predator fans for quite a while. The Leafs swarmed Rinne, and eventually broke through again off a hard rising wrist shot from the stick of Auston Matthews 15:06 into the second. Leafs 2, Preds 1.
William Nylander’s goal at 16:44 in the second was unbelievable, as five blue shirts kept jamming at the net and it went past Rinne eventually with enough pressure. Toronto 3, Preds 1.
Toronto would score again to start the third period, oh goody. 29 second in, a goal by Mitchell Marner, Toronto’s second power play goal out of their three chances. Toronto 4, Preds 1.
Jake Gardiner put another tally at 3:39 into the third and it’s over. Bad guys 5, The Old Home Squad 1.
When Tim McGraw’s goal song isn’t heard multiple times at the Stone, it’s always a sad state of affairs in downtown Nashville. The Predators wouldn’t get on the board again until Scotty Hartnell, 15:37 into the third, would get one chance at the net to ease the pain, and the final rests there. Toronto 5, Preds 2.
Yuck. Let’s get the sour taste of that out of our mouths. With our unbelievable hot streak, we were due for a loss. Shake it off, and on to Minnesota.
Image courtesy of the Nashville Predators and Fox Sports Tennessee