MAPLE LEAFS (3-1-0) at PREDATORS (1-2-0)
TV: LEAFS TV, FS-TN
Season series: The first of two season meetings. The last time these two teams met, nearly two years ago on Nov. 17, 2011, the Predators won, 4-1, at Bridgestone Arena behind a 38-save performance from Pekka Rinne.
Big story: The Nashville Predators will look to build on their first win of the season, a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, as their five-game home stand heats up Thursday against Toronto. It won’t be easy against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who stormed out of the gate with three straight wins.
Maple Leafs: For the Maple Leafs faithful, it was a dream start to the season. Three wins to open the campaign, including a victory each over rivals Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators, launched Toronto atop the Eastern Conference a week into October. Unfortunately, the Leafs suffered a bit of bad luck Tuesday night in Colorado, where the also-unbeaten Colorado Avalanche edged them, 2-1, thanks to PA Parenteau’s skate deflecting the decisive puck into the net.
After scoring 12 goals in their first three games, the Maple Leafs were held to just one goal on 28 shots. The ice seemed to tilt in favor of the Avalanche, whose aggressive play under coach Patrick Roy was on full display. It might have been worse if not for goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who was under siege much of the night but still managed 31 stops.
"We gave up too many chances," Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf said. "[Bernier] kept us in it. It was right there for us."
Predators: Down in Nashville, it hasn’t been quite the reverie, although the win against Minnesota in the Predators’ home opener does brighten the outlook. After falling twice on the road to open the season, to the St. Louis Blues and Colorado, Nashville returned home looking to rebound against the Wild. The Predators scored two power-play goals and a penalty shot all in the first period, and held on for 3-2 win. While the points were vital, Nashville also saw highly rated rookie Filip Forsberg notch his first NHL goal. Seth Jones, this year’s top draft pick, assisted. Both were among the three stars of the game.
"Any player [who] gets to the National Hockey League, they dream of scoring their first goal, and when they do, it is a time to celebrate," coach Barry Trotz said. "I think you saw real good emotion from Filip. I know our bench was loving it. They love our two young guys. I think they have success, our team enjoys their having success."
Who’s hot: Joffrey Lupul has two goals and three assists over his past three games, including the Maple Leafs’ lone goal against the Avalanche. … Rinne seems to have found his form after being pulled against St. Louis in the opener. The Finn has 65 saves on 69 shots over his last two contests.
Injury report: Lupul is questionable after taking a knee-to-knee hit Tuesday. Center Jay McClement missed Tuesday’s game to be with his wife while she was giving birth and is questionable to return to the lineup Thursday. Forwards Nicolai Kulemin (ankle) and David Clarkson (suspension) continue to sit for Toronto, and defenseman Mark Fraser (kidney) and wing Frazer McLaren (finger) are on injured reserve. … Wing Nick Spaling (upper body) and defenseman Roman Josi (concussion) are questionable to return for Nashville. Viktor Stalberg (shoulder) is expected back in late October.
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