An efficient power play and a stifling penalty kill were the keys to the Leafs’ 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
Toronto received a late goal with the man advantage in each of the first two periods in going 2-for-3 on the evening on the power play. In addition, they rendered Nashville ineffective when the Predators had the extra man. Much to the disappointment of the home fans in the Music City, the Preds were 0-for-5 in that category.
James van Riemsdyk opened the scoring, deflecting a point shot from Nikita Zaitsev.
In the second frame, Matthews deposited his 36th goal of the year to extend his Leafs rookie record. Matthews finished a cross-ice feed by Connor Brown, whose split-second delay on the pass generated the scoring chance.
The Leafs defenders allowed Filip Forsberg to waltz into the zone uncontested in the third period, and the player took full advantage, getting Nashville on the board.
Despite an anxious finish, Brown provided the insurance by sealing the game with an empty-netter.
Frederik Andersen, showing no ill effects from an upper body injury sustained last Saturday, made 29 saves for the win.