TORONTO — Sheldon Keefe has grown on his team over the past week.
Aside from all the good vibes after a bumpy start to the season, the Maple Leafs showed on Tuesday that we still have a long way to go.
Reilly Smith scored his second goal of the night 23 seconds after overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights came back from a goal deficit in the third period and extended their winning streak to eight games with a 4-3 win over Toronto.
The Leafs have been in trouble after an ugly four-game slip that started with a 3-1 loss at Sin City on Oct. 24 but responded with a win over Philadelphia last Wednesday before beating Boston — the seventh time in The episode was won by home and Carolina on the road during an impressive 22-hour run on Saturday and Sunday.
“Tough stretch,” Toronto head coach Keefe said after Tuesday’s setback. “Three games in four nights against three elite teams. Five out of six points feels good.
“But tonight is a sign that we still have a long way to go in terms of managing the game because that should be six points.”
The Leafs went 3-2 on the power play with less than 10 minutes to go and a chance to seal it, but the No. 1 unit stayed out 1:21 before an offensive blue line error resulted in a 2-on -1 that Smith buried for his sixth win of the season.
“I’ve got to look better up there and keep fresher guys on the ice,” said Toronto winger Mitch Marner, who had one goal and one assist but was on the ice to equalize and win.
“Especially at this point in the game.”
Reilly was stopped by Erik Kallgren on one of three Vegas breakaways in the second, then took a pass from Shea Theodore in three-on-three overtime and made no mistake with a backhand deke upstairs.
“Definitely not the easiest game,” said Kallgren, who had 20 shots against five escapees. “These opportunities just come out of nowhere.
“They made us pay.”
Jack Eichel and Nicolas Roy had the other goals for Vegas first place (12-2-0), while Logan Thompson made 28 saves. William Karlsson added two assists as the Knights clinched their first-ever win in Toronto, giving them at least one win in every NHL city.
“I’m loving every minute of it,” Smith said of a winning streak that began at home against the Leafs. “We roll the punches and find ways to win.”
Timothy Liljegren added his first two goals of the season for Toronto (7-4-3).
“The structure just wasn’t good enough,” said the defender. “We didn’t play hard enough.”
Kallgren was 2-1 down after 20 minutes, keeping his team within one-for-two with three breakaway stops. With his third goal of the season, Marner prepared the 2:2 equalizer after a great individual performance at 1:50 p.m.
Marner, who extended his points streak to seven games, then played the role of creator to put Toronto first ahead with a deft no-look pass to Liljegren for the latter to bag his second of the night at 4:56 p.m .
“What you expect from Mitchy,” Liljegren said. “Unreal pass.”
Vegas opened the scoring 45 seconds from the start after Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin flipped the puck.
William Carrier was stopped on his subsequent break by Kallgren, who was pressed into service with Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, both injured, but the puck trickled through the Toronto keeper and Roy was there for his fourth.
The Leafs responded at 5:05 when Liljegren scored his first goal in his third game after missing the start of the schedule following hernia surgery.
But he gave the puck away late in the period to set the table for Eichel’s sixth at 5:55 before Toronto seized procedure in the second, only to give it away late.
“They want to be an elite team,” Keefe said. “You have to be elite when it comes to managing games. You have to finish this game.”
Murray is scheduled to train on Wednesday – the goalkeeper’s first training session since his groin/kidnapper injury on October 15.
The 28-year-old was added alongside Samsonov in the summer after Toronto waved goodbye to Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek.
Samsonov carried most of the burden with Murray but suffered a knee injury on Saturday.
Keefe said the Netminder is being looked at from week to week.
The 26-year-old center will make his second trip to Buffalo Thursday since last season’s trade.
Acorn was selected second overall by the Sabers – one spot behind Connor McDavid – in the 2015 draft but never came close to a playoff spot.
“I wish all these guys the best,” Eichel said after the morning skate in Toronto. “I’ve been part of this organization for many years and have made many great relationships.”
Leafs: Hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
Knights: Visit the Buffalo Sabers on Thursday.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on November 8, 2022.
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