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Nashville at Toronto

Versteeg, Leafs battle back to defeat Predators

CBSSports.com wire reports
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were happy to put an end to their lengthy winless skid.

Kris Versteeg scored second-period power-play goals 59 seconds apart and the Maple Leafs overcome an early three-goal deficit in a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Nikolai Kulemin's goal late in the second period completed a big comeback as Toronto scored four power-play goals in the second period.

The Leafs lost starting goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere to an apparent groin injury early in the third period.

However, they managed to hold on for their first win since Oct. 26 with backup Jonas Gustavsson making six saves.

"That was a long three weeks," Toronto forward Clarke MacArthur said.

Toronto was winless in eight straight entering the game. Overall, it had gone 1-8-3 since opening the season with four straight victories.

"Strange game to say the least," Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "I'm glad we won. It's one of those kinds of games that when you look back on it, hopefully it puts an abrupt stop to the slide we've been in. We can use it for momentum."

Luke Schenn and Mikhail Grabovski also scored for the Maple Leafs, who went 4 for 8 on the power play.

J.P. Dumont, Jordin Tootoo, Marin Erat and Marcel Goc scored for Nashville.

Giguere made a nice cross-crease save on Cal O'Reilly just before giving way to Gustavsson with 13:10 left in regulation.

The Leafs' backup goalie responded with a nice save on David Legwand and a quick block on Shea Weber to preserve the victory.

"It was a different situation, but you can't think so much," Gustavsson said. "You just have to try to get warm and get right into it."

Toronto seemed to be in trouble when Goc stole the puck from Brett Lebda and scored on a short-handed breakaway to make it 4-1 at 4:41 of the second period.

But several Nashville penalties gave Toronto the opening it needed, with Versteeg scoring goals just 59 seconds apart - both while manning the point during two-man advantages.

"We gave them momentum by taking penalty after penalty after penalty," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "When are we going to learn? You have a team down and out, you have them on the floor gasping for air and you let them off the mat. We stopped working, we stopped skating and therefore you take penalties.

"We deserved exactly what we got in the end," he said.

Added veteran forward Steve Sullivan: "We had them right where we wanted them -- a fragile team down on the ropes and we didn't take care of business."

Grabovski made it 4-4 on another power play, finishing a nice tic-tac-toe passing play by sliding the puck around Pekka Rinne at 14:21.

Kulemin completed the comeback at 16:44 after finding a loose puck at the top of the crease and making the shot. It was Toronto's fourth power-play goal of the game -- the Leafs had scored only three in the previous eight games.

Toronto fell behind 3-0 in the first 12 minutes of the game. The third goal came just 10 seconds after Wilson had called a timeout -- when Grabovski softly threw the puck in front of his own goal and on to Erat's stick.

"I tried to leave the building, but contrary to the fire code I think they chained the doors," Wilson said. "I couldn't leave."

Schenn started the comeback with his first goal of the season, avoiding a defender before beating Rinne with a wrist shot at 19:30. That narrowed Nashville's lead to 3-1 and set the stage for a wild second period.

"There was a feeling we weren't done yet," Schenn said.

Notes

  • Rookie Nazem Kadri earned his first NHL point with an assist on the Leafs' first goal.
  • Toronto had the same lineup for a second straight game -- forward Luca Caputi and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson were healthy scratches.
  • Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf continues to recover from a laceration on his left leg and watched the game from the press box. Coach Ron Wilson expects him to start skating again next week.
  • It was Nashville's first visit to Air Canada Centre since Jan. 13, 2009.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Kris Versteeg celebrates one of two second-period goals against the Nashville Predators. (Getty Images)
Kris Versteeg celebrates one of two second-period goals against the Nashville Predators. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
Nashville (7-6-3)3104
Toronto  (6-8-3) «1405
Three Stars
K. Versteeg
TOR


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
N. Kulemin
TOR


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
J. Gustavsson
TOR


Saves: 6
Save Pct.: 1.000
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
08:13 - J.P. Dumont (3), Slap Shot. Assist: Legwand, Suter
11:33 - Jordin Tootoo (2), Snap Shot. Assist: Legwand, Ward
11:43 - Martin Erat (1), Snap Shot, Unassisted.
19:30 - Luke Schenn (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kessel
2ND PERIOD
04:41Short - Marcel Goc (3), Wrist Shot, Unassisted.
06:22Power Play - Kris Versteeg (3), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kessel, Kadri
07:21Power Play - Kris Versteeg (4), Slap Shot. Assist: MacArthur, Kaberle
14:21Power Play - Mikhail Grabovski (4), Backhand Shot. Assist: MacArthur, Kaberle
16:44Power Play - Nikolai Kulemin (5), Snap Shot. Assist: MacArthur, Grabovski
3RD PERIOD
None
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
03:32Bouillon, 2 min, Holding
05:17Suter, 2 min, Slashing
05:36Klein, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
07:09Suter, 2 min, Hooking
13:12Hornqvist, 2 min, Goaltender Interference
16:28Ward, 2 min, Hooking
3RD PERIOD
04:31Schenn, 2 min, Hooking
07:17Smithson, 2 min, Slashing
11:48MacArthur, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
19:47Weber, 2 min, Hooking
Shots On Goal
 123T
NSH1281434
TOR1117533
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Pekka Rinne58:59285
Jean-Sebastien Giguere46:50244
Jonas Gustavsson13:0960
Game Information
Attendance - 19069
Referees - David Banfield, Eric Furlatt
Linesmen - Tony Sericolo, Mark Shewchyk
 
Other Games
Phi 0 Final
Mon 3
Ana 1 Final
Dal 2