The Predators stopped the Toronto Maple Leafs during eight short-handed chances and scored two power-play goals in a 4-2 win Thursday night. “We just kept skating and forcing them to take penalties on us,” coach Barry Trotz said after his Predators went 2-for-11 on the power play. “Our penalty killers did a great job of taking away their point men. Your best penalty killer is in the net and Tomas Vokoun did a great job.”
There were 22 penalties overall, 13 whistled against Toronto.
“Killing a lot of penalties is working time for me,” said Vokoun who stopped 30 shots. “Penalties are our biggest issue. We are talking about it, but clearly something has to be done. I understand desperation penalties to save a goal, but we took three or four penalties in our offensive zone. On a bad night, we are going to lose a game doing that.”
Steve Sullivan scored a power-play goal and assisted on another for Nashville. Also scoring were David Legwand, Jean-Pierre Dumont and Vernon Fiddler as the Predators won their eighth straight at home.
“Our goal is score one power-play goal a game and try to be the difference,” Sullivan said. “We want the penalty kill to shut the other team down as we try to win the special teams wars.”
Alexei Ponikarovsky and Chad Kilger scored for Toronto, but the Maple Leafs’ five-game winning streak was snapped.
Legwand opened the scoring at 14:53 of the first period with his career-best 19th goal. Martin Erat intercepted the puck and skated into the slot with Legwand to his left. He passed to Legwand, who fired a one-timer from midway in the slot past goalie Andrew Raycroft high to his glove side.
Less than a minute later at 15:24, Mats Sundin took a shot from the left circle that bounced off the glove of Vokoun. Sundin took control of the rebound and skated behind the goal. He moved the puck to Ponikarovsky, who scored from the right side with Vokoun out of position.
“I was concerned after the first period,” Trotz said. “I didn’t think we engaged into the game very quickly. Sometimes that happens when you play teams from out of your conference. We were playing more of their style. I thought the second and third periods we skated the way we could.”
Sullivan gave Nashville a 2-1 lead, scoring on a 5-on-3 from low in the left circle with a one-timer over Raycroft’s right pad at 6:23.
Dumont scored during a power play at 10:09 of the third.
“We didn’t have much of a 5-on-5 game,” Dumont said. “Our penalty kill was outstanding and was the main reason we won. We have to make sure we stay focused in games like this.
“There were a lot of power plays and a lot of penalty killing on both sides. They were really big and really fast. We just had to keep skating and play our game.”
Kilger cut the Predators’ lead to 3-2 at 16:13 when he caught Vokoun out of position and scored from in front.
Fiddler sealed the win, scoring an empty-netter with 32 seconds left.
“It’s frustrating,” Kilger said. “I thought we played a pretty hard game, but we ended up in the box too many times. They have a lot of little, shifty guys who are pretty confident with the puck. I guess we had a couple of sticks too many on them.”
Notes: Legwand’s previous high was 18 goals in the 2003-04 season. Toronto played in Nashville for only the second time since the Predators joined the NHL in 1998. … The Predators are 29-7-1 when scoring first. Nashville’s Jason Arnott has a point in eight of nine games. Sullivan has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 12 games.