Phil Kessel’s Goal Gives Maple Leafs 4-3 Win Over Predators


Phil Kessel's Goal Gives Maple Leafs 4-3 Win Over Predators NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Phil Kessel scored the tiebreaking goal with 5:48 left to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Monday night.

Alexei Ponikarovsky had a goal and assist, and Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan also scored for the Maple Leafs, who squandered a 3-0 lead they built in the first period.

Marcel Goc, Cody Franson and Ryan Jones scored for Nashville.

Hagman gave Toronto a 1-0 lead 2:02 into the game when he put a shot between the pads of goalie Pekka Rinne.

Ponikarovsky doubled the Maple Leafs' advantage a little more than 3 minutes later. He skated in front and scored with a backhander that bounced off Rinne before going into the net.

Stajan made it 3-0 at 9:00 when he skated low in the slot and put a backhanded shot past Rinne, who was then replaced. Rinne allowed three goals on eight shots before Dan Ellis took over for the rest of the game.

Goc started Nashville's comeback with 2:22 left in the second period. Skating near the crease, Goc got control of the puck after it deflected off the stick of teammate J.P. Dumont and beat goalie Jonas Gustavsson with a backhander.

Rookie defenseman Franson brought the Predators within 3-2 at 4:21 of the third. Franson fired in a one-timer from above the right circle.

Less than 2 minutes later, Jones tied it when he tipped in the puck after a shot from Nick Spaling from a few feet inside the blue line deflected off a stick in front.

Nashville C Jason Arnott returned after missing four games (upper body injury) and RW Jerred Smithson (broken hand) was back in for the first time since Dec. 22. … The Maple Leafs played in Nashville for only the third time. … Kessel has three winning goals this season.

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