The Nashville Predators are finding ways to win on the road after failing to do so for the first month of the season.
After a dramatic comeback victory their last time out, the Predators try to complete a perfect three-game road trip when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
Nashville (13-9-2) was outscored 21-3 in losing all five of its road games in October, but has since gone 6-1-1 away from home while scoring 30 goals.
The Predators opened their current road trip in Ottawa on Thursday, and won 6-5 on Martin Erat’s goal with 22.2 seconds to play after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.
On Saturday in Montreal, the Predators scored four goals in the third to tie the game before Radek Bonk and Erat scored in the shootout to give Nashville a 5-4 win. The Predators scored three straight goals after falling behind 4-1 with 9:19 remaining, and Bonk’s goal with 46.8 seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime.
“It just showed how resilient our team can be,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “(The Canadiens) score right at the end of that power play and we stayed with it.”
The Predators can wrap up their first perfect three-game road trip since Oct. 16-19, 2006 with a win over a Maple Leafs team which has lost seven of its last nine home games.
Nashville starting goaltender Chris Mason was pulled after allowing two goals on six shots just under 14 minutes into Saturday’s game.
Dan Ellis relieved Mason, and stopped 18 of 20 shots to continue his impressive start. Ellis, whose only NHL start before this season came on Feb. 18, 2004 for Dallas, improved to 6-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and two shutouts on the season.
Neither goalie has ever faced Toronto.
The Predators beat the Maple Leafs 4-2 on Feb. 8 in their only meeting last season. Nashville is 5-2-0 with one tie all-time against the Leafs, but have not visited Toronto sine a 2-1 loss on Jan. 6, 2004.
The Maple Leafs (10-11-6) are coming off a 4-2 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday to win their second straight following a season-high four-game losing streak. Toronto has not won three straight since winning five in a row Jan. 27-Feb. 6.
Jason Blake ended an 18-game goal-scoring drought with a score in the second period on Saturday. Blake, who had a career-high 40 goals last season with the New York Islanders before signing with the Maple Leafs in July, entered Saturday’s game with just two goals despite taking 115 shots, sixth-most in the league.
“It hasn’t been the start I was looking for coming into Toronto,” said Blake, who has 16 assists. “It felt great that one finally went in for me.
“It’s not that I haven’t been getting my chances. That’s the frustrating part, but my goal is to stay positive, work hard, keep my chin up and keep shooting.”
Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin, who already holds Toronto franchise records for goals (401) and points (942), set another club record against the Penguins. Sundin recorded two assists on Saturday to stretch his point streak in home games from the start of the season to 15, breaking Babe Dye’s record of 14 in 1924-25.
Sundin, who has eight goals and 16 assists at the Air Canada Centre this season, has three goals and five assists in seven career games against Nashville.
Toskala stopped 30 shots against Pittsburgh, and is 3-2-1 with a 2.17 GAA and a shutout since Nov. 17. He had a rough outing in his last start against the Predators on Feb. 14 while with San Jose, allowing two goals on five shots and getting pulled after just 10 minutes of a 5-0 loss. Toskala is 2-3-0 with a 2.89 GAA all-time versus Nashville.