It is the fifth straight home loss for the Knights, and it’s the most goals Marc-Andre Fleury has given up in a single game all season.
Penalties were dished out left and right, and Toronto capitalized with two power-play goals through the first 40 minutes of play. There were plenty of lead changes throughout the game, but for the second game in a row the Knights surrendered three third-period goals, two of which were scored in the span of just 55 seconds.
The lack of discipline started early; in fact, Toronto managed to get three power plays in the first period alone, which helped the Leafs grab a 1-0 lead when Jake Gardiner‘s shot was tipped in by Andreas Johnsson.
Another penalty within the first two minutes of the second could have meant trouble for Vegas. However, there was a glimmer of hope when Paul Stastny swooped in with a short-handed goal, tying the game at 1-1 at 2:46 of the middle frame.
That's one way to kill a penalty! pic.twitter.com/2VCJKng4t1— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 15, 2019
Just over two minutes later, the Knights finally caught a break with a power play of their own. While the Leafs successfully killed it off, the Knights took their first (and only) lead of the game shortly after the power play when Cody Eakin and Shea Theodore set up Oscar Lindberg for his third of the season.
Gorgeous shot by Lindberg and great work by Cody Eakin to pump the breaks and set him up. pic.twitter.com/Gg4dpHo7yI— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 15, 2019
But the lead didn’t last long as Patrick Marleau knotted things up just 90 seconds later.
Vegas was hit with yet another penalty, a high-sticking call against Lindberg, and Auston Matthews put the Leafs back on top once again.
But everything unraveled in the final 20 minutes of the game.
Though William Karlsson managed to tie it up at 3-3 just over four minutes into the frame, it would be all Toronto for the rest of the night.
Morgan Rielly was up first, squeaking a goal past Fleury 10:01 into the third. Not even a minute later, Matthews scored his second of the game to give the Leafs a commanding 5-3 lead. Mitch Marner sealed the deal on a short-handed odd-man rush with 3:27 to go.
The Knights had their chances in this game, and while Frederik Andersen made some great saves, this was not the bounce-back effort Vegas needed after Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to Arizona. The Knights have been great on home ice since the beginning of their inaugural campaign, so losing five straight at T-Mobile Arena is a sign that something isn’t clicking.
Clearly, the team’s offense as a whole has dried up, but one thing that definitely isn’t clicking is Vegas’ power play, which went 0-for-3 tonight. The Knights are now 0-for-5 in their last three games, all losses, and are 2-for-13 since the All-Star break. That is not going to cut it, especially with so many teams vying for playoff positioning.
Also, Fleury wasn’t sharp tonight. It’s difficult to be critical of a player that has done so much for this team, but he’s been fighting the puck in recent games, and it’s possible the rest factor is starting to play a significant role.
Vegas is now just seven points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks for third place in the Pacific Division standings. The Knights cannot afford to continue to leave such valuable points on the table.
Vegas’ attention must now shift to getting things back on track for Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators.