The Predators were playing for the third in in four nights. They opened their season-long six-game trip with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday — a performance that head coach Peter Laviolette described as “awful” — and then beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Saturday.
Rinne is now tied with Marc-Andre Fleury, Bernie Parent and Ed Giacomin for 21st on the all-time shutout list.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, the Predators went ahead at 4:08 of the second period when Ekholm’s shot from the point, through traffic, beat Hutchinson for his fifth of the season.
Hutchinson was making his third consecutive start with No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen and backup Garret Sparks out injured.
Ekholm has 29 points in 43 games. His career best was 35 points in 2015-16.
Toronto appeared to tie the game 43 seconds later when Auston Matthews connected on a no-look pass from Andreas Johnsson. But the goal was called back after the Predators correctly challenged that William Nylander was just ahead of the play.
After Rinne stopped Johnsson in front, Subban made it 2-0 with his fourth goal at 13:11. The Predators won an offensive zone faceoff before the Nashville defenseman, who was playing his seventh game back after missing 19 with an upper-body injury, ripped a one-timer that deflected off Nylander’s stick at the point and sailed past Hutchinson.
Subban, a Toronto native whose parents were on hand at Scotiabank Arena, dropped to one knee and pumped his fist in celebration at center ice, before being congratulated by teammates.
Rinne stopped Mitch Marner late in the period as Toronto managed just 14 shots through 40 minutes.
Nashville, which came in having won three of its last four on the heels of a six-game skid, got a power play early in the third. The best chance came on a partial breakaway by Toronto center Frederik Gauthier, who shot over the Predators’ goal.
Toronto got its third opportunity with the man advantage later in the period, but Matthews hit the post for the second time with Rinne out of position.
Hutchinson kept his team in it with a glove save on Viktor Arvidsson with six minute left in regulation, but lost control of a rebound and Sissons scored his eighth with 2:37 left in regulation.
Fiala added his eighth goal with 37.3 seconds left.
Matthews blasted a shot off the post for the game’s first real chance before Filip Forsberg, who returned to the Nashville lineup after missing 17 games with a hand injury, forced a good stop by Hutchinson at the other end.
With just two goals over his last nine games coming into Monday, Kasperi Kapanen hit the post off a nice feed from Connor Brown on an odd-man rush later in the period.
NOTES: Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said before the game he doesn’t know when Andersen (groin) or Sparks (concussion) will return to action. Andersen has practiced twice in recent days. … Despite his prolonged absence, Forsberg’s 14 goals are still tied with Craig Smith for Nashville’s team lead heading into Monday.
Predators: At Chicago on Wednesday.
Maple Leafs: At New Jersey on Thursday.
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