Vancouver Sun

JVR helps Leafs top Preds in shootout

An­der­sen makes big saves dur­ing tight game in T.O.

- TERRY KOSHAN tkoshan@post­ twit­­to­sun Sports · College Sports · NHL Hockey · Ice Hockey · Toronto Maple Leafs · Toronto · Nashville Predators · Nashville · Scotiabank Arena · Vince Carter · Auston Matthews · Toronto Marlies · P.K. Subban · Mike Babcock · James Van Riemsdyk · Frederik Andersen · Pekka Rinne · Viktor Arvidsson

That’s how a hockey team guts out a vic­tory.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, with lit­tle room to ma­noeu­vre at ev­ery turn, out­lasted the Nash­ville Preda­tors on Wed­nes­day night, get­ting the de­cid­ing goal in a shootout from James van Riems­dyk to beat the 2017 Stan­ley Cup fi­nal­ists 3-2 at the Air Canada Cen­tre.

Fred­erik An­der­sen was ter­rific in net and Kasperi Ka­pa­nen con­tin­ued to strengthen his hold on a full-time ros­ter spot as the Leafs won for the sixth time in seven games.

It wasn’t easy. Be­fore a crowd of 18,878, the ex­pe­ri­enced Preda­tors were tough on the Leafs all night. An­der­sen fin­ished with 44 saves.

An­der­sen made a win-sav­ing stop on Ryan Jo­hansen with just over a minute to play in reg­u­la­tion, thwart­ing the Preds for­ward on a wrap­around.

Van Riems­dyk was the 13th shooter in the skills com­pe­ti­tion, and beat Pekka Rinne to the stick side.

An­der­sen then stopped Vik­tor Arvids­son to en­sure the vic­tory.

It was another tough night for Aus­ton Matthews. He did lit­tle on of­fence, gen­er­at­ing next to noth­ing at even strength.

The Leafs car­ried a 2-1 lead into the third pe­riod, but it was gone be­fore most fans were back from the con­ces­sions. Arvids­son cap­i­tal­ized on Toronto’s in­abil­ity to clear the puck and beat An­der­sen with a quick, low shot at the 25-sec­ond mark.

Ka­pa­nen has been giv­ing the Leafs bursts of en­ergy since be­ing re­called from the Toronto Mar­lies on Jan. 29, and we saw that ef­fort at work mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod.

With Con­nor Brown serv­ing just his fifth mi­nor of the sea­son, Ka­pa­nen chipped the puck past a sprawl­ing P.K. Sub­ban at the Leafs blue-line and raced to get a break­away.

Nash­ville’s Craig Smith caught up to Ka­pa­nen, but the Leaf main­tained con­trol of the puck. Ka­pa­nen spun and beat Pekka Rinne be­tween the legs with a fore­hand, stun­ning the Preda­tors.

It was Ka­pa­nen’s fourth goal in 13 games with the Leafs in 2017-18, and it was the Leafs’ fourth short­handed goal.

If Matt Mar­tin gets back into the Leafs lineup, it can’t be at the ex­pense of Ka­pa­nen, whose speed is un­matched by just about all of his team­mates.

Leafs coach Mike Bab­cock didn’t ex­actly go out on a limb af­ter the morn­ing skate when he said “I don’t imag­ine there will be a lot of space.”

Sure enough, nei­ther team could crack through the neu­tral zone through the first 10 min­utes of the game. Shots on goal were 2-2.

The 21st goal of the sea­son for van Riems­dyk came at 16:06 of the first to give Toronto a 1-0 lead thanks to some dili­gence by Brown, who out­mus­cled Sub­ban and passed to van Riems­dyk. The lat­ter’s shot from the slot ap­peared to hit de­fence­man Alexei Emelin, enough to fool Rinne.

Nash­ville fi­nally scored late in the sec­ond pe­riod when Sis­sons took ad­van­tage of a bounce and one-timed the puck past An­der­sen. A shot hit van Riems­dyk in the back of the head and dropped to Sis­sons, who fired it in at 18:10.

 ??  ?? James van Riems­dyk
James van Riems­dyk

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