James van Riemsdyk scores shootout winner, Leafs edge Predators 3-2
Toronto Maple Leafs left winger James van Riemsdyk, who scored the winning shootout goal, congratulates goaltender Frederik Andersen (31) after beating the Nashville Predators in NHL hockey action in Toronto on Feb. 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
David Alter, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, February 8, 2018 12:11AM EST
TORONTO -- Frederik Andersen got the better of the Nashville Predators, again.
Andersen made 44 saves through regulation and overtime, then stopped six skaters in the shootout as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat Nashville 3-2 on Wednesday at Air Canada Centre.
He's now 7-1-0 all-time against the Predators.
"Freddie had to be good," said Leafs coach Mike Babcock. "Good for Freddie and good for us -- we got the points."
James van Riemsdyk scored the winner in the seventh round of the shootout and added a goal in regulation to lead the offence.
Kasperi Kapanen also scored for the Leafs (32-19-5), who picked up their sixth win in their last seven games.
Colton Sissons and Viktor Arvidsson scored for the Predators (32-12-8), who failed to move into a tie with Winnipeg (73 points) for first place in the Central Division. Nashville sits a point behind the Jets.
The Predators applied pressure to Toronto, outshooting the Leafs 38-21 from the second period onwards.
Van Riemsdyk opened the scoring in the first period after collecting a pass from Connor Brown along the side boards. Van Riemsdyk's long-range shot went off the stick of defenceman Alexei Emelin and past Rinne at 16:06. Travis Dermott also collected an assist.
The Leafs added to their lead in the second period.
With Nashville on the power play, Kapanen stripped P.K. Subban of the puck at the Predators blue line for a breakaway. Craig Smith caught up to Kapanen and initially blocked his path to the goal, but Kapanen spun around Smith and put a wrist shot through the legs of Rinne to give Toronto a 2-0 lead at 9:38.
"I was getting pretty tired there, so I just gave it all I got and lucky enough I just got him on my back, and it ended up the way it did," Kapanen said of the goal.
Dominic Moore and Ron Hainsey assisted on the goal.
The Predators scored their first goal of the game when Pontus Aberg's shot hit van Riemsdyk on the way to the net. Sissons picked up the loose puck and beat an out-of-position Andersen. Ryan Ellis also collected an assist to cut Toronto's lead to 2-1 at 18:10.
Nashville tied it 2-2 early in the third when Arvidsson picked up a rebound in front of Andersen and shot the puck through his legs just 25 seconds into the period.
The comeback was nearly complete when Ryan Johansen tried a wraparound attempt on Andersen near the final minute of regulation time. Andersen was able to slide across to make a pad save.
"I expected he was just going to try to throw it on net once he got it," Andersen said of Johansen's chance. "The puck came kind of high, and he did a good job of catching it and putting it on his stick quick."
Tyler Bozak and Ryan Ellis both scored in the third round of the shootout to force extra shootout attempts. Van Riemsdyk shot the puck over the left blocker of Rinne to win it for Toronto.
The defending Western Conference champions outshot the Leafs for much of the game but managed to get solid goaltending and timely scoring. The game provided some clues to how Toronto stacks up with some of the best teams in the league.
"We want to be one of the best teams and we feel like as long as we play our system and play our game and compete every night and work we can play with anybody," Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly said.
Pekka Rinne made 30 saves in defeat.