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Knights, Adin Hill seek redemption in rematch against Maple Leafs

The Golden Knights are excited to get a shot at redemption after a disastrous home performance against the Maple Leafs when they get a rematch Tuesday in Toronto.

That’s particularly true for goaltender Adin Hill, who was pulled from Thursday’s 7-3 loss at T-Mobile Arena after allowing three goals in a 4:20 span midway through the first period.

“It’s nice to kind of get back in there against the same team again and get another crack at them,” Hill said after the Knights practiced Monday in Toronto. “(Toronto) is always a good atmosphere and a fun building to play in.”

The game at Scotiabank Arena won’t be fun for long if the Knights can’t get their defensive structure figured out.

While Hill was the one yanked from the ice, the struggles can’t be pinned solely on him. The Knights (32-19-7) allowed 22 shots on goal in the first period and 42 in the game.

It’s a big part of why the Knights have lost three straight and five of six and the kind of effort they will have trouble overcoming as long as they are missing star forwards Mark Stone and Jack Eichel.

“We’ve got to defend better,” coach Bruce Cassidy said Monday. “You can use the Toronto game as an example. We weren’t near good enough in that area. Better against Ottawa (on Saturday), but that’s an area of the game that just has to be better for us. Our (defensemen) are healthy. Our goalies are healthy. That’s the healthiest part of the lineup. We need to make sure we’re dialed in there. And it’s kind of our identity anyway.”

The Knights did feel encouraged by a better effort against the Senators on Saturday, but the result was still an overtime loss.

Cassidy said that outcome should show the Knights how important it is to take care of the small details while they are short-handed up front.

“You have to be buttoned up, because as a team, we can still play very well and not get any points because of what those guys who make the extra play typically do for you,” he said. “The messaging now is we can’t give points away by not being prepared to play, and that’s what happened the last 10 minutes of the first period against Toronto.”

Help could be on the way in the form of Eichel’s return from a lower-body injury, but the star center won’t play Tuesday. Cassidy said he hasn’t been told if Eichel will be available on the five-game trip.

Until he is, the Knights must find ways to keep the puck out of the net and stay in games.

That starts with goalies Logan Thompson and Hill, who statistically remains one of the top netminders in the NHL despite losing his past four starts.

“He’ll be fine,” Cassidy said of Hill’s mindset after being removed from the Toronto game. “I rarely pull the goalies, probably once a year each guy on average. It just happened to be a night where we weren’t playing well, and it’s a message to the group.”

Now they have a chance to redeem the loss less than a week later.

“For a coach, it’s less work because you just saw them and the pre-scout is fresh in your mind,” Cassidy said. “The benefit is we didn’t play well and our guys are a proud group and a competitive group that will want to put our best foot forward.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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