Golden Knights can’t slow high-flying Maple Leafs in loss
Auston Matthews scored twice in the second period, and the Golden Knights were overwhelmed in a 4-0 loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday in Toronto.
Updated November 2, 2021 - 8:16 pm
A Golden Knights-Maple Leafs game normally would be considered a matchup between two heavyweights.
That wasn’t the case Tuesday.
The punchless Knights posed little threat on offense and were battered 4-0 by Toronto at Scotiabank Arena, snapping a three-game winning streak.
“That wasn’t close to good enough,” goaltender Robin Lehner said. “Probably the worst one we’ve had since I came to Vegas I think.”
The Knights were without six regulars because of injury, including center William Karlsson (broken foot), and iced a lineup that had eight players making less than $1 million.
They were unable to match the speed of Toronto’s star-studded lineup and were blanked for the second time in the past five games.
Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell had 12 of his 26 saves in the third period en route to the shutout.
Auston Matthews scored twice in the second period, and Mitch Marner had a goal and two assists. William Nylander scored in the third period.
The Knights continue their four-game road trip Thursday at Ottawa.
“When we’ve got energy and we’re dialed in, we can still be a hard team to play against and we can still scrape up some wins with the guys we have out of the lineup,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “And if we’re off a little bit and the other team is clicking, which they were tonight, that’s what it looks like. Lesson learned.”
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Snowed under
Lehner was forced to make two point-blank stops in the opening 20 seconds and spent most of the night under seige with the Knights unable to establish any offensive zone time and relieve the pressure.
By the end, Toronto held a 44-19 advantage in scoring chances, the third straight game the Knights have allowed more than 40 scoring chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
The Knights allowed 40 or more scoring chances in a game 10 times during their first four seasons combined and never in three consecutive outings. It’s happened four times in nine games this season.
“Especially against a team like this, they’ll kill you if they get a chance,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “You’ve got to take care of your own end first and if you do that, you’re good with breakouts, we’ll get offense. We weren’t tonight, and we need to be better and learn from it.”
2. Changes to lineup
Forward Mattias Janmark returned after missing the past two games with an upper-body injury and had two shots on goal in 12:27 of ice time.
Forward Michael Amadio debuted against his former team after he was claimed off waivers Saturday and played 15:37 with four shot attempts. With Karlsson out, DeBoer tried to balance his four lines and center Brett Howden auditioned on the first line between Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith.
The Knights didn’t register a shot attempt for the first six minutes and they went 9:32 before Campbell had to make a save. There were two faceoffs in the Maple Leafs end the entire first period.
DeBoer moved Chandler Stephenson to the top line at the start of the second period but that didn’t help much, either.
“Again, it’s hard lessons but we’re learning about our team, we’re learning about our personnel, we’re learning who can help us win going forward in a lesser role when we get everybody back,” DeBoer said. “There’s still a lot of valuable stuff there.”
3. Breaking out
Matthews and Marner each were off to slow starts and criticized on at least one occasion by coach Sheldon Keefe.
But the Knights didn’t have an answer for the tandem, which combined for three goals, five points and 10 shots on goal.
Marner scored a spectacular spin-o-rama goal in the first period and assisted on both of Matthews’ goals.
Magical Mitch Marner (@Marner93) 🔮 pic.twitter.com/R6GYiK0ld6
— NHL (@NHL) November 2, 2021
It was Matthews’ third multi-goal game against the Knights, the most by any player.
“Their best players were on tonight,” DeBoer said. “It was one of those nights, and with the lineup we’ve got right now, we’re going to have to red line every night in all areas in order to compete, especially against good teams, and that’s a real good team.”
Contact David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.