The Vegas Golden Knights will try to extend their seven-game winning streak Tuesday night when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have won three straight.
The Maple Leafs are coming off key back-to-back wins — 2-1 over the visiting Boston Bruins on Saturday and 3-1 over the host Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. They started the streak with a 5-2 home victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
Vegas, meanwhile, defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 on Saturday in the third of five consecutive road games.
“We cannot take it for granted, for sure,” said Vegas winger Jonathan Marchessault, who had a goal and an assist at Montreal. “Winning in (this) league is pretty hard. We got a reality check last year.”
The Maple Leafs have rebounded from a four-game losing streak and so far have been able to deal with the loss of goaltender Ilya Samsonov (knee) after the second period on Saturday. Samsonov is expected to be out for at least one week.
Erik Kallgren, who started the season as the No. 3 goaltender, made 29 saves on Sunday.
“I feel like my game has been pretty good, but we haven’t had the results we wanted,” Kallgren said “You just have to keep working and these games will come, too.”
The game against Vegas is Toronto’s third straight against the top teams in the league.
They have passed the first two tests.
“Both (Saturday and Sunday) we stayed with it,” said the Maple Leafs’ Mitchell Marner, who assisted on the go-ahead goal in the third period Sunday by John Tavares. “We talked about this being a big weekend, especially back-to-back against two great teams. Both games, defensively speaking, we did what we wanted to, held our objective down there.”
Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe started the game Sunday with the fourth line of David Kampf between Zach Aston-Reese and Denis Malgin.
“I thought Denis was our best player through much of the game,” said Keefe, who is on much more solid footing after the team struggled to close October. “He’s one of those guys really hanging on to the puck on the inside and making things happen. That line was really good, it’s a few games in a row where they’ve been responsible but also really dangerous.
“The win is on the back of playing sound defensively. Tonight was a reflection of how I felt about the game rather than the lines’ (performance). One of those games where not a lot was happening and I thought changing things would maybe get the guys’ attention and change the chemistry.”
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy had his fourth line of Nicolas Roy between William Carrier and Keegan Kolesar open the game in Montreal, something the coach has done before.
“They really set the table for the next line coming over the boards, and they end up finishing a few plays,” Cassidy said. “I was glad to see them get rewarded on the scoresheet, because sometimes those types of lines, they get lots of shots, shots, shots, shots and they don’t always go in.”
Kolesar had a goal and an assist Saturday. Roy scored a goal and Carrier added an assist.
“We know what we have to do,” Roy said. “Be reliable. We can play against the fourth line or we can play against a first line and be hard to play against. We want to spend as much time in the o-zone as we can. When the next line goes on the ice, they have more space.”
–Field Level Media