The Nashville Predators will look to extend their three-game winning streak Thursday when they visit a Toronto Maple Leafs team that is seeking consistency.
Both teams won Tuesday night. The Predators (35-26-8, 78 points) earned a 4-2 road victory over the Montreal Canadiens, and the Maple Leafs (36-25-9, 81 points) beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 at home.
“I really liked our mental game (Tuesday),” Predators coach John Hynes said. “We really came into this game ready to play, and ready to play the right way.”
The Predators scored four goals in the second period, two by Filip Forsberg, as they improved their record to 13-7-1 over the past 21 games.
Predators goaltender Juuse Saros, who had back-to-back shutouts against the Dallas Stars on March 5 and 7, had his shutout string end at 181 minutes and seven seconds — second longest in franchise history — early in the third period.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Forsberg said. “By that point, it almost felt like it’s just going to keep going and going. He’s really stepped up for us.”
“I really like where he is at mentally and the consistency level and the mental toughness,” Hynes said.
Forsberg also had an assist as the Predators have won the first two games of a five-game road trip. The left winger has 21 goals for the season to become the first player in franchise history with six consecutive 20-goal seasons.
“Every game is huge for us,” Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. “Every game is like a playoff game. A good start in Dallas, and now (Tuesday) in Montreal with a win, so it’s huge for us.”
Josi’s two assists against the Canadiens gave the captain a career-best 49 for the season.
The Maple Leafs returned home Tuesday after going 0-2-1 on a West Coast trip.
They had power-play goals from William Nylander and Auston Matthews on Tuesday. Defenseman Morgan Rielly returned to the Toronto lineup after missing 23 games with a broken foot. He played nearly 22 minutes.
“I thought he was pretty good, all things considered,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He hasn’t played and it’s a tough game — especially in that second period. It’s hard for our defense to get off the ice and they’re really coming. It looked like it was taking a toll on him physically, in terms of his conditioning.”
The Maple Leafs have been trying all season to develop consistency.
“We’ve talked about being more consistent,” Rielly said. “And I think now more than ever, just given the standings, the time of year and remaining games, I think it’s an opportunity for us to start to play well and build some momentum. I think if you look back to this time last year our performances weren’t what we wanted them to be in time for playoffs and this year we’ve got a chance to fix that and change that.”
Good goaltending helps, and Frederik Andersen provided that Tuesday with 32 saves.
“Freddie was outstanding, in the second period especially,” Keefe said. “There were a lot of very good things for us and we’ll take two very important points.”
–Field Level Media