The offense once again struggled for the Vegas Golden Knights (4-5-0) Tuesday night as they dropped the first game of their four-game Canadian road trip 4-0 to the Toronto Maple Leafs (5-4-1).
Robin Lehner did everything he could making 29 saves on 33 shots but the Maple Leafs’ offense was too much for the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights were only able to put up 26 shots and were once again held scoreless on the powerplay.
This game was pretty much exactly what you would expect with a star-heavy Maple Leaf’s roster facing off against an injury-ridden Golden Knights team.
The Golden Knights are missing Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch, and William Karlsson to name a few. These four names finished top-five in Golden Knights scoring last season and accounted for 41% of the Golden Knight’s goals.
Right from the get-go the Maple Leafs were outskating and outworking the Golden Knights. Chippy breakout passes and simpler players were made as a result by the Golden Knights. The team registered their first shot on goal roughly nine and a half minutes into the game.
The Maple Leafs broke free with the first goal of the game off of a solid forecheck from John Tavares who found an open Mitch Marner. Marner accepted the pass and stickhandled through a phonebooth to tuck home the game’s first goal.
Shots after the first period read 13-4 with scoring chances favoring the Maple Leafs 16-1. The Golden Knights’ offense was snakebitten once more.
As a result, the Vegas Golden Knights line combinations were shuffled after the first period. Brett Howden, who got a shot on the first line, was removed after a sixteen-minute trial.
More of the same offensive struggles continued in the second period this time with better flash in the pan chances for the Golden Knights. Alex Pietrangelo led the team in generating offense, frequently jumping up on the play and skating a full 200-feet.
This cost the team though as Pietrangelo was caught chasing on the game’s second goal which came on a Maple Leaf’s powerplay. Auston Matthews ripped home a shot from the left circle for his first goal of the game making it 2-0.
The Golden Knights got two powerplay chances in the second and were unable to score on both. The Maple Leafs had more shorthanded chances than the Golden Knights, who struggled to even gain zone possession.
The team is still looking for their first powerplay goal of the season. They are in dangerous territory having now gone eight games without scoring a powerplay goal. The Buffalo Sabres hold the record for the longest amount of games gone without scoring a powerplay goal to start the season with ten games.
Before the second period came to a close, Matthews doubled his goal total after chipping home on the doorstep thanks to a strong Nylander forecheck which gave the Leafs a 3-0 lead. Matthews now has seven goals in six career games against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Maple Leafs continued to pour things on in the third period. Nylander buried home a slick shot past Lehner after he accepted a stretch pass from Matthews making the game 4-0. The stars for the Maple Leafs continued to light up the Golden Knights. Tavares, Nylander, Matthews, and Marner all had points for the Leafs.
The Golden Knights began to wake up a little in the third period and outshot the Maple Leafs twelve to eight. But it was too little too late for the Golden Knights who dropped the game 4-0. Jack Campbell posted his fifth career shutout with 26 saves.
The Golden Knights will continue their Canadian road trip Thursday night as they take on the Ottawa Senators at 7:00 pm (4:00 pm local time).