It was a dominating performance to say the very least. As key player have returned to the lineup from IR in recent weeks, the power in the Predators seems to have returned. This power was once again on display at Scotiabank Arena last night, as the Preds (26-15-3, 55 points) blanked the host Maple Leafs (27-13-2, 56 points) 4-0.
The win helped the Predators take back the reigns in the Central division, leapfrogging the Winnipeg Jets and currently leading by a point.
The first story going in between these two strong teams was the return of Filip Forsberg to the lineup. Fil, remarkably is still tied with Craig Smith for the most goals on the team even given his 17 game absence. The other was that Toronto has been averaging 3.17 goals on the young season and the Preds lead the league in fewest goals against with 2.45 on average.
Rinne must have missed that memo. Actually, the game started with a few Maple Leaf shots denied by—-guess who—–the post. Auston Matthews rifled a shot off of it and then Connor Brown had a great centering chance that met the iron then the door was shut by Peks.
The game would open up, unconventionally enough, on the power play. Mattias Ekholm shows his stuff rifling a shot from the blue line, it’s 1-0 in favor of Music City 4:09 in.
Then shortly after a Matthews goal was waved off for being offsides, Subban blasted one through traffic to extend the lead 2-0 13:11 into the second.
Now on to the third, Toronto would have another golden opportunity on a power play when Auston Matthews had a wide open net, and yet again could not cash in. The Preds would simply just hold down the fort until Colton Sissons with less than three minutes left would not be denied as he clawed in with the puck to get the third goal across.
Though this seemed to be the knockout punch, the Preds were still not done, icing the game further as with a minute left Sissons found Kevin Fiala off a backhand pass that would find the back of the net again. 4-0 is your final.
A statement win on the road against one of the leagues toughest teams, this was what you wanted to see. A gritty close game that stats wise was all Predators right from the get-go. 30 shots, 3 goals past Hutchinson, 1 for 2 on the power play, very solid play.
No drama, no need for a comeback, no sloppy costly mistakes. Just good ol’ fashioned hockey. Toronto only had 18 shots on goal, but were chock full of golden opportunities that just didn’t go.
Now going into another clash with hated rival Chicago, we seem to be a lot more ready to face the world now after a mini holiday hiatus. Though he wasn’t on the score sheet, it would seem that Forsberg’s return proved to be another momentum shifter in how big a win this was. It’s a tale of two teams for sure, and we like this one better.
Video credit to Sportsnet