Series (Game 1 of 1)

Toronto leads 1-0

Game 1: Monday, January 18th
Maple Leafs4Final

Maple Leafs 4

(17-24-9, 43 pts)

Predators 3

(29-17-3, 61 pts)

8:00 PM ET, January 18, 2010

Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee

1 2 3 T
TOR 3 0 14
NSH 0 1 23

A. Ponikarovsky (Maple Leafs - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

D. Ellis (Predators - G): Saves: 13, Save Pct.: .929

C. Franson (Predators - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Maple Leafs-Predators Preview


Nashville's Patric Hornqvist has been finding the back net with ease in recent weeks.

That's bad news for a Toronto team that hasn't been able to stop anyone lately.

Hornqvist and the Predators look to win their fourth straight Monday when they host the slumping Maple Leafs for just the third time in their history.

Nashville (29-16-3) returns home after sweeping a three-game road trip through Western Canada, concluding it with a 1-0 win at Calgary on Friday. Hornqvist scored the lone goal with 6:22 left, assisted by Steve Sullivan. It was his 13th goal in the last 16 games.

"Everything's going right for me," said Hornqvist, who had three points on the road trip. "It wasn't really even a good opportunity to score, but Sully made a good pass and it went in. I'm getting lots of good bounces right now. I've got to keep going in front of the net and work hard every night and hopefully get good bounces next game, too."

Hornqvist, who has a four-game point streak at home but has never faced Toronto, is also making his goals count. His tally Friday was his sixth game-winner of the season.

"Hornqvist has been one of our best players this year," goaltender Dan Ellis said. "We can always count on him to be aggressive, to get in front of the net, to cause havoc and to score big goals. (Friday) was just another one of those nights for him."

The surging Predators have given up just 18 goals while winning seven of their last nine games, thanks to stellar goaltending by both Ellis and Pekka Rinne. Ellis recorded 22 saves Friday for his first shutout of the season, but Rinne could be back in net Monday. He shut out Toronto (16-24-9) last season in his only career meeting against the Maple Leafs.

Whoever starts will get the luxury of facing a club struggling at both ends of the ice. The Leafs have dropped seven of their last nine, getting outscored 31-17 in that stretch and scoring two goals or fewer in all seven of those losses. They fell 6-1 to Washington on Friday.

A power-play goal by Tomas Kaberle was the only goal for Toronto. Vesa Toskala struggled in net, making 18 saves as he fell to 7-10-2 with a 3.62 goals-against average.

Toskala and Toronto's biggest problems have been coming early. The Maple Leafs gave up two goals in the first period Friday and have been outscored 8-2 in the opening 20 minutes of their last six games.

"The guys that were making the big mistakes weren't rookies and second-year players," coach Ron Wilson said. "They were veterans, NHL veterans, and shame on them for not quite being ready. It was simple little things."

Goaltending has been a major headache for Wilson all season. The Maple Leafs have given up four or more goals in three of the last four contests, and they have allowed an NHL-worst 170 goals on the season.

Toronto has dropped five straight and nine of 10 on the road, allowing opponents to score 16 power-play goals on 35 opportunities in those games.

This is Toronto's second trip to Nashville, and first since a 4-2 defeat Feb. 8, 2007. The only other trip there for the Leafs was a 3-2 overtime loss Jan. 17, 2002. The Predators are 6-3-0 with one tie in the all-time series.