Gameday: Golden Knights hope to take advantage of struggling Maple Leafs
Two in a row? Maybe.
The Vegas Golden Knights got the easy part out of the way. They remembered how to win. Now, it’s about putting wins together and starting a winning streak.
The Golden Knights continue their four-game homestand by hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that Vegas can certainly relate to; Toronto comes in on a five-game winless streak (0-4-1) and playing the second of a six-game road trip.
Vegas ended its five-game winless streak Sunday with that 6-0 victory against the Flames.
But it’s a struggling Toronto team coming to T-Mobile Arena tonight. Mitch Marner is still nursing an ankle injury that will keep him out for a couple more weeks. Alexander Kerfoot is still dealing with dental fractures. It’s a completely different team than the one that Vegas lost to 2-1 in overtime a couple of weeks ago in Toronto.
Milestone night for Fleury
There are only six goalies in National Hockey League history that have surpassed 450 wins in their careers. Marc-Andre Fleury could be the seventh should he get a win tonight.
Fleury, the seventh winningest goalie at 449 victories, is coming off a 34-save shutout on Sunday in what was the Golden Knights’ best overall performance in about three weeks. It helped that Fleury made a couple of magnificent saves in the latter stages of the game to keep Calgary off the board.
You won’t find one who hates to talk more about records than Fleury. He’s done it so much since he’s been with Vegas that it’s become second nature. But reaching 450, with the solid chance of getting to 500 at some point, is going to be one of those milestone marks that Fleury should look back on with pride.
Makeshift top line still doing work
We touched on it in detail after Sunday, but the new-look top line of Max Pacioretty, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith has been stellar since being formed last Wednesday.
Karlsson comes in with seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past three games and has 16 points overall in his past 14 games. Pacioretty has consecutive multi-point games and has six goals in his past eight games. Smith hasn’t been as loud with six points in seven games, but he still provides an impact in other facets of the game.
May I point you toward the penalty kill?
Vegas is only 1-2-0 since Gerard Gallant switched the lines, but even with Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Kings, the top line did its part. Another solid performance, whether against Auston Matthews’ or John Tavares’ line, will be important for Vegas to keep the good times rolling.
Troubles in Toronto
You can’t point to lack of goals as the reason why the Maple Leafs have been struggling, calling to question the job status of coach Mike Babcock. Toronto has 13 goals in the past five games, which is just under three a game. Normally, that’d be fine.
But the Leafs have given up 23, which is a clip of 4.6 per game. Not good, chief.
Toronto’s offense is good enough to offset any defensive deficiencies. When the defense isn’t on, though, it’s bad. The Leafs are going to need Frederik Andersen to replicate his 37-save performance on Nov. 7 if Toronto has a shot.
If Vegas’ offense is anything like Sunday, it might be a long night for Toronto.
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty -- William Karlsson -- Reilly Smith
Jonathan Marchessault -- Cody Eakin -- Mark Stone
Alex Tuch -- Paul Stastny -- Cody Glass
William Carrier -- Tomas Nosek -- Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb -- Nate Schmidt
Nicolas Hague -- Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill -- Deryk Engelland
Maple Leafs projected lineup
Zach Hyman -- John Tavares -- Kasperi Kapanen
Andreas Johnsson -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander
Ilya Mikheyev -- Jason Spezza -- Nic Petan
Pierre Engvall -- Nicholas Shore -- Frederik Gauthier
Morgan Rielly -- Cody Ceci
Jake Muzzin -- Justin Holl
Travis Dermott -- Tyson Barrie
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM