Connect with us

Vegas Golden Knights

Kessel Ties Yandle’s Record as Golden Knights Defeat Maple Leafs 3-1



Phil Kessel, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)
Phil Kessel, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

The Vegas Golden Knights (5-2-0, ten points) defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs (4-3-0, eight points) Monday night from T-Mobile Arena.

With his first shift in the game, Phil Kessel officially played in his 989th straight NHL game. This ties him for the NHL’s ironman streak with retired defenseman Keith Yandle. Kessel started this consecutive regular season games played streak back in Nov. 2009 with the Maple Leafs.

In terms of lineup changes, Bruce Cassidy stuck with his lines from Saturday night’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche. Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone played with Jack Eichel, and the Misfit Line of Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson was reunited. Logan Thompson started.

The game opened up with Kessel’s ironman story getting a perfect moment. The Maple Leafs were on the kill for too-many men on the ice, and Kessel scored on the ensuing powerplay. Or did he?

Sheldon Keefe and the Maple Leafs’ bench, who were the ones who took the initial penalty, challenged the play for an offsides. It was indeed offsides, and Kessel’s 400th career goal, first goal as a Golden Knight and goal in his record-tying ironman streak game, was taken off the board.

The Golden Knights, not happy with the Maple Leafs being party-poopers, scored the next shift on the remaining powerplay. Nicolas Roy got the goal, and Kessel and Reilly Smith got assists.

The Golden Knights had the Maple Leafs on their heels for the first half of the first period. But the Leafs stormed back with a couple of good chances, such as a mad scramble in front of Logan Thompson, where they added three shots on goal in just a few seconds. The puck somehow stayed out.

It was a back-and-forth period in the second as well, with both teams getting chances. William Carrier had two of his patented power-move chances to the net, but both were stopped. Mitch Marner got a breakaway after a botched Golden Knights D-to-D pass.

Elsewhere Brayden McNabb made a sliding blocked shot to stop a rush, and Keegan Kolesar, Wayne Simmonds, and Kyle Clifford started getting into things.

The Leafs broke through with a goal from two of their top players. John Tavares and William Nylander got behind the Golden Knight’s defense on a two-on-one, and Nylander scored on the Tavares pass.

The Golden Knights started the third period off strong, with the new first line impressing. They had chances out the wazoo on Ilya Samsonov before Stephenson finally scored. Expressive Mark Stone choked out Stephenson during the goal celebration.

Michael Amadio added to the Golden Knight’s lead, accepting a pass from Nicolas Hague and scoring his first goal of the season. Two third-period goals propelled the Golden Knights to a multi-goal lead.

At the other end of the ice, Maple Leaf’s captain John Tavares got hit with a shot in his left knee. He was slow to get up and couldn’t put weight on his left leg as his teammates helped him off the ice. He went to the locker room but was able to return to the game.

The final minutes of the game was tense, with the Maple Leafs pulling Samsonov over four minutes left in the game and the Golden Knights on the penalty kill with Brayden McNabb in the box for a high stick. Thompson and the PK unit came up big on the six-on-four, and the Golden Knights escaped with a win.

VHN’s Player of the Game: Phil Kessel

Who else would it be? Great games from Stephenson and McNabb, though.

Up Next: Kessel will break the ironman streak Tuesday night in San Jose at 7:00 as the Golden Knights play their first back-to-back of the 2022-23 season.