JVR hat trick leads Leafs' barrage on Predators
Toronto goalie Andersen makes 32 saves
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock ran his usual four lines against Nashville. But he only needed one on Tuesday.
James van Riemsdyk led the way with a hat trick and an assist, Tyler Bozak had four helpers and Mitch Marner scored once and set up two more as Toronto beat the visiting Predators 6-2.
The trio now sit 1-2-3 in Leafs scoring after combining for 11 points.
"Just the way we read off each other is getting better every game, the three of us have pretty good hockey sense," said van Riemsdyk, who tops the club with seven goals and 15 points in 16 games.
"I think the puck was following us as a line and I was fortunate for the bounces."
Toronto (7-6-3), which is 6-2-0 at Air Canada Centre, took the lead early and never gave it back en route to snapping Nashville's three-game win streak.
Marner got it going with his sixth of the season, fighting off a check behind the net before curling out from the corner and beating a screened Marek Mazanec just 1:04 into the game.
The 19-year-old rookie, who is listed as six-feet tall and 170 pounds, isn't surprising his linemates with what he can do physically on the ice, and also has 15 points in 16 contests.
Marner's linemates not surprised
"You know how good he is on his edges, you see it in practice, when he does it in games it doesn't surprise you," said van Riemsdyk. "He's good with his body position to come up with pucks and obviously he's got a good stick too.
"He's tenacious and doesn't back down from going into dirty areas."
Van Riemsdyk and James Neal traded goals to make it 2-1 Toronto through 20 minutes.
Van Riemsdyk made it 3-1 off a slick feed from Bozak 7:52 into the second, but Viktor Arvidsson got one back for the Predators (6-6-3) before the period was through.
Leo Komarov restored Toronto's two-goal lead 7:18 into the third period and the 27-year-old van Riemsdyk capped his hat trick off a less than six minutes later.
Bozak was able to tie up the centreman and Marner poked the puck to van Riemsdyk, who slid a backhand past Mazanec for his first hat trick since the 2010-11 season while still a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Laviolette thought his team deserved better
"Last couple games we've gotten better together, we're limiting the turnovers, cycling hard and that's why we're having success," said Marner.
"Mitch has come in and done a good job, he's a smart player with great skill," said van Riemsdyk. "He's been a fun guy to play with."
Despite a lopsided score, Nashville coach Peter Laviolette thought his team deserved better.
"They got a quick one right off the bat, they got another one. I thought we had lots of chances to score goals," he said. "They had a couple goals that were seeing-eye goals.
"We took as many attempts if not more but it didn't find its way through. They capitalized on their opportunities."
Rookie William Nylander added a late goal for the Leafs.
Frederik Andersen made 31 saves for Toronto while Mazanec stopped 26-of-32 shots for Nashville.
"Probably one or two he'd like back," Laviolette said of his goalie.