TORONTO — Luca Sbisa knew the Golden Knights were ready to win Saturday in Ottawa.
How did he know? The defenseman pointed to the veteran leadership as the reason the losing streak ended at three.
“Losing three was bad,” he said. “Losing four would have been unacceptable. That was a big character win.
“There wasn’t one guy who talked. Everyone chipped in on a personal level, little plays that go unnoticed. But we have a lot of good leaders, and now we have a chance to go .500 on the trip.”
Coach Gerard Gallant said had it not been for some unsteady play in the third period in both games in New York and down the stretch Thursday in Boston, the talk would be about a nine-game winning streak going into Monday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs instead of having discussed snapping a three-game losing streak.
“We’ve played pretty well save for a few minutes in the third period,” Gallant said. “But we’re a good hockey team.
“We’re not thinking we’re an expansion team.”
Defenseman Deryk Engelland got Sunday off as the Knights practiced in Etobicoke, a western district in Toronto. Gallant said Engelland will play Monday.
“He’s one of the older guys, and it’s a long trip,” Gallant said. “So we decided he could take the day off.”
The Maple Leafs may be high-scoring, but they’re also 1-5 in their last six games and are coming home after losing to St. Louis 6-4 Saturday. They went 1-3 on the road trip, leaving their frenzied fan base in a bit of a tizzy.
The Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division with 16 points, one behind second-place Ottawa and eight behind first-place Tampa Bay. Center Auston Matthews leads the team with 10 goals and 18 points and is tied for fourth in the NHL in scoring.
Fellow center Mitch Marner has struggled. He has just one goal in 15 games, and coach Mike Babcock recently demoted him to the fourth line. Marner had 19 goals and 42 points last season as a rookie season.
Will Price play?
Looking ahead to Tuesday at Montreal, the status of Canadiens starting goaltender Carey Price is up in the air. Price did not play Saturday against Winnipeg or Sunday vs. Chicago after sustaining a lower-body injury late last week.
Backup Al Montoya was in goal as the Habs rallied to beat the Jets 5-4 in overtime. Montoya has played in two of Montreal’s last four games and recorded wins in both starts. Overall, he’s 2-1. Sunday, Charlie Lindgren got the start in goal and shut out the Blackhawks 2-0.