Maple Leafs seven-game winning streak comes to an end with 6-2 loss to Golden Knights

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
4 months ago
After wrapping up a successful road trip, defeating all four teams and extending their winning streak, the Toronto Maple Leafs returned home to begin a five-game homestand last night, starting with the Vegas Golden Knights, who they played for the second and final time this season.

First period:

Just six days ago, Toronto came out of the gates firing on all cylinders against the Golden Knights in their arena. They were by far the better-looking team, and they proved that when you looked at the scoreboard after the first period. The Maple Leafs got a 4-0 lead while outshooting the Golden Knights 23-14 after the first 20 minutes. Fast forward to last night, Toronto started the game very well. They had the game’s first couple of chances, including a couple from the Bertuzzi, Domi, and Nylander line, but Adin Hill was up to the task early on, keeping Toronto off the scoresheet.
The fourth line of Holmberg, Kampf, and Reaves, which has been playing their best hockey this season over the past two weeks, had another solid period for Toronto. They spent a good chunk of their shifts in the offensive zone, hemming the Golden Knights, and Ryan Reaves also had a glorious scoring chance in tight after a turnover, but Hill read it all the way.
Vegas started a little slow, but nothing compared to how they started and finished last week’s game. After some time in the first period, the Golden Knights found their feet and generated a couple of great looks on Ilya Samsonov, but similarly to Adin Hill, he was up to the task and kept the game tied at zero. Bobby McMann was sent to the penalty box toward the end of the period for tripping, which sent Vegas to their first power play. However, the Maple Leafs’ penalty kill killed it off to end the period, with 12 seconds of the man advantage carrying over to the second period.
Toronto entered the first intermission tied 0-0 and tied in shots 9-9.

Second period:

It was a much different game between these two teams compared to their previous meeting. Neither team was extremely dominant through 20 minutes, and there wasn’t much ice to work with at times. Toronto killed off the remaining 12 seconds of the penalty Bobby McMann took at the end of the first period. But roughly three and a half minutes into the new period, TJ Brodie was whistled for holding, sending Vegas to another power play in quick succession.
Again, like the first penalty kill, Toronto did a solid job at limiting the road team’s chances, keeping the game tied at zero, hopefully giving the home team some momentum. Unfortunately, after an offensive zone face-off for Toronto, Ivan Barbashev snuck his way behind TJ Brodie and Morgan Rielly, was sprung on a breakaway, and beat Ilya Samsonov for the 1-0 lead just before the midway point in the period.
Just over three minutes later, the Brodie and Rielly pairing were on the ice again, and Mason Morelli tipped home his second of the season past Samsonov, doubling his team’s lead in the second period. Things didn’t get better for Toronto. Bobby McMann was sent to the box again, giving the Golden Knights their third power play. But fortunately, Toronto’s penalty kill continued to limit Vegas’ chances, improving to 3-for-3 on the night.
Down by two goals to a good Golden Knights team, the Maple Leafs needed to get on the board next to prevent going into the intermission down by two. Luckily, Tyler Bertuzzi was there to make that happen. Off a face-off win by William Nylander, Jake McCabe received the puck and fed Bertuzzi, who was below the face-off dots. He collected the puck and fired his 11th of the season past Hill, cutting Vegas’ lead in half.
Bertuzzi scoring his fifth goal in his last six games – four in his previous two – got Scotiabank Arena on its feet with the second period coming to a close. Unfortunately, with the Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie pairing on the ice yet again, with under a minute left, John Tavares turned the puck over, and William Karlsson fired his 20th of the season past Samsonov, regaining the two-goal lead heading into the third period.
Toronto entered the second intermission down 3-1 and tied in shots 20-20.

Third period:

After allowing a late goal to end the second period, it was probably deflating in the Toronto room during intermission. However, a two-goal deficit is nothing to this team. We’ve seen them come from behind in many games this season and throughout the years. But if they were to come from behind in this one, they needed to cut out the costly mistakes and capitalize on their scoring chances. Toronto started the period with a couple of good looks on Adin Hill, but like the first two periods, kept the puck out of the net.
Skip ahead to just over the midway point of the period. A breakout pass to Max Domi hit his stick, making the puck airborne. Alex Pietrangelo swatted the puck out of mid-air, preventing it from getting out of Toronto’s zone. Vegas kept possession of the puck in the offensive zone and ultimately scored off a Jonathan Marchessault shot, making it a 4-1 game. However, there was debate whether or not Pietrangelo should’ve been called for a high stick when he swatted the puck out of the air.
Anyway, a two-goal deficit for Toronto grew to a three-goal deficit with roughly 10 minutes left in the game, making it a little more challenging to mount the comeback. But hang on – with five minutes to go, Pontus Holmberg and Ryan Reaves get sprung on a 2-on-1, and Reaves scored his third of the season on Hill, making things a little interesting.
Well, scratch any thought of a potential comeback because Jonathan Marchessault tipped home the empty netter to make it 5-2, and with less than a minute left in the contest, Nic Roy took advantage of a lazy defensive zone shift from Toronto, knowing the game is over, and made it a 6-2 game with his 11th of the season, getting payback from Toronto’s 7-3 victory less than a week ago in T-Mobile Arena.

Who stood out:

When you look at the box score and see Toronto lost 6-2, you might think nobody looked good. Well, that wasn’t the case. As a team, I didn’t think the Maple Leafs looked awful. The Golden Knights were much better than the previous meeting against Toronto and did a way better job defending in their zone. Toronto only receiving one power play was not ideal, especially after seeing the penalties Toronto so-called committed last night. But their losing the power play advantage 4-1 was not the reason they lost. It was self-inflicted mistakes that led directly to some goals, Ilya Samsonov letting in one or two soft goals, and Vegas looking better than last week’s game.
Let’s talk about the good part of yesterday’s game: the fourth line. Pontus Holmberg, David Kampf, and Ryan Reaves continue to be very productive on the ice, and last night, delivered another solid showing. According to Moneypuck.com, they generated an xGF% of 83.3, outshot their opposition 3-2, and outscored them 1-0 with Reaves’ late third-period goal. You don’t expect much from them every game, but if they can spend more time in the offensive zone than the defensive zone, even if they don’t score, that’s good for your team.
I don’t think anybody else looked fantastic. There were quite a few players who looked meh at best, and some were okay but couldn’t get on the board for their team.
Sheldon Keefe tinkered with the pairings on the blue line entering last night’s game. At their practice the day prior, it was projected to be Brodie-McCabe, Rielly-Benoit, and Giordano-Lagesson. At puck drop, it was magically Brodie-Rielly, Benoit-McCabe, and Giordano-Lagesson, which sparked some conversation among the fan base.
Long story short: the Brodie-Rielly pairing was not good. They were outscored 3-0 in 10:53 of ice time at 5-on-5. On the bright side, the Giordano-Lagesson pairing looked solid. According to Moneypuck.com, they played 13:12 of ice time at 5-on-5, won the shot attempt battle 24-8, and shot battle 11-5, despite losing the goal battle 1-0.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Thursday night when they welcome the Arizona Coyotes to town as they continue their five-game homestand. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.

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