Injury-plagued Knights meet rebuilding Senators

NHL Hockey

After having a three-game winning streak snapped with a 4-0 loss at Toronto, the Vegas Golden Knights will limp into Ottawa to play the Senators in the second game of a four-game eastern trip.

The Golden Knights were no match for the host Maple Leafs on Tuesday night as Auston Matthews scored twice, Mitchell Marner had a goal and two assists and William Nylander had one goal and one assist.

Jack Campbell stopped 26 shots to hand the Golden Knights their second shutout loss of the season.

“That wasn’t close to good enough,” Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner said afterward. “Probably the worst one we’ve had since I came to Vegas (in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks in February 2020), I think.”

Toronto dominated the injury-ravaged Golden Knights from the start, finishing the first period with a 13-4 edge in shots on goal and a 16-1 advantage in scoring chances, including 7-0 in high-danger opportunities.

Still, it was just a 1-0 game on a Marner goal before Matthews broke open the contest with a pair of second-period scores.

Vegas is without two-thirds of its top line in wingers Max Pacioretty (fractured foot) and captain Mark Stone (lower-body injury), who had his right knee buckle on a shot attempt in a 6-2 loss at Los Angeles on Oct. 14 but has resumed skating on the side.

The team announced before Tuesday’s loss that second-line center William Karlsson suffered a broken foot in a 5-4 shootout win over Anaheim on Friday and would be sidelined four to six weeks while winger Alex Tuch (shoulder surgery), defenseman Zach Whitecloud (upper body) and center Nolan Patrick (upper body) also are sidelined.

“We’re not going to make excuses for having guys out,” Lehner said. “A lot of teams go through it, but we can’t get outworked like we did (Tuesday) and be that open. … We’d won three in a row. For some reason, we just weren’t where we needed to be.”

The Golden Knights continue to struggle on the power play, going 0-for-3 against the Leafs, and are the only team in the league without a power-play goal, going 0-for-18. That was supposed to be a major focus in the offseason, according to owner Bill Foley.

Highly touted prospect Peyton Krebs, the team’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft who published reports say is an untouchable in any Jack Eichel trade discussions with Buffalo, has yet to score in nine games and is tied with defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and forward Jonathan Marchessault for the team’s worst plus-minus at minus-6.

“This is a four-game road trip,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “Didn’t start the way we wanted it to. Got to bounce back and get ready for the next one.”

That would be against the rebuilding Senators, who were feeling much more upbeat after their loss Tuesday night at Minnesota.

Ottawa rallied from a 3-1 first-period deficit to take a 4-3 lead and eventually garnered a point in a 5-4 overtime loss, finishing 1-1-1 on a three-game trip that started with an impressive 4-1 win at Dallas on Friday but included a 5-1 loss at Chicago on Monday.

“I thought if this game is a year ago or two years ago, we probably lose 6-1,” Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. “Being down 3-1 … just the shot blocks, and the effort they put forth towards each other, to me it just shows a way more mature team that stayed in the fight. We would have liked two points, but we got one. I liked a lot of the efforts.”

“I think it was a big road trip for us,” forward Brady Tkachuk said. “Three out of six points. It’s a good road trip for our first one. As long as we keep learning and we keep improving, which we always have and always will, we’ll be successful this year.”

–Field Level Media

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