Golden Knights beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in OT, win 8th straight

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TORONTO — Reilly Smith scored his second goal of the game 23 seconds into overtime and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 Tuesday night for their eighth straight win.

Jack Eichel and Nicolas Roy also scored for Vegas, which has won 12 of 14 this season. William Karlsson had two assists and Logan Thompson stopped 28 shots.

Timothy Liljegren scored twice and Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist for Toronto, and Erik Kallgren made 16 saves. The Maple Leafs snapped a three-game win streak.

In the extra period, Smith took a breakaway pass from Shea Theodore and roofed a backhand on Kallgren for his seventh of the season.

Vegas finished a sweep of the two-game season series, also beating Toronto 3-1 at home on Oct. 24.

The Maple Leafs trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes, and Kallgren kept them within one in the second period with breakaway stops on Keegan Kolesar, William Carrier and Smith. Marner then tied it with a great individual effort to get his third of the season with 6:10 remaining in the period. It extended his point streak to seven games.

Toronto took its first lead with just over three minutes left as Marner sent a slick no-look ass to Liljegren, and the defenseman got his second of the night – and second of the season.

Marner flipped the puck out of play for a delay-of-game penalty early in the third period, but Kallgren bailed out his teammate with a big stop on Chandler Stephenson.

Toronto got a power play of its own midway through the period, but but Smith scored his sixth on a 2-on-1 short-handed rush with 8:17 to go to tie it.

Vegas opened the scoring 45 seconds into the game after Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin turned the puck over at the offensive blue line. Carrier had his ensuing breakaway stopped by Kallgren, but the puck trickled through and the hard-charging Roy was there to deposit it for his fourth.

The Leafs responded at 5:05 when Liljegren took a feed from David Kampf to score his first.

However, after Liljegren’s giveaway, Eichel scored his sixth to move the Golden Knights back ahead with 2:05 left in the opening period.

MURRAY GETTING CLOSER

Kallgren has been pressed into action with both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov dealing with injuries. Murray is scheduled to take part in Wednesday’s practice – the goaltender’s first on-ice session with the main group since injuring his groin/abductor on Oct. 15.

Samsonov carried the bulk of the load with Murray out, but suffered a knee injury in Saturday’s win against Boston. Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday he is considered week-to-week.

UP NEXT

Golden Knights: At Buffalo on Thursday night in the finale of a five-game trip.

Maple Leafs: Host Pittsburgh on Friday night in the second of a three-game homestand.

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    Panthers put Aaron Ekblad on long-term injured reserve

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers will be without top defenseman Aaron Ekblad until at least mid-November, and quite possibly longer, after the team putting him on the long-term injured reserve list with a groin injury.

    Players on the LTIR list must miss at least 10 games and 24 days; the Panthers have 11 games in that 24-day window, so Ekblad is out for at least that many. He got hurt in Florida’s loss Monday at Boston.

    “We’re not happy about it and obviously we’re concerned for him as a person first,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. “But he’ll be back. It’s not a season-ending thing. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be back at anything other than 100%.”

    Ekblad missed Florida’s final 21 regular-season games last season with a knee issue and 21 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season season with a lower-leg fracture.

    And even without their best defenseman, the Panthers have found ways to win consistently over the last two seasons when he’s not in the lineup. Florida has gone 31-10-1 in the 42 games Ekblad missed over that span. He already is working out in anticipation of his return, Zito said.

    “It’s not an ideal situation to lose some of the key players from our team,” captain Aleksander Barkov said. “But at the same time, of course, you have to battle, not just for yourself but for the guy who’s missing. You have to battle for him as well, got to play for him.”

    Defenseman Brandon Montour also will miss the game against Philadelphia, the second consecutive contest he’ll sit out because of an upper-body injury. The Panthers believe he can return to practice in the coming days.

    The Panthers recalled Matt Kiersted and Lucas Carlsson from their AHL affiliate in Charlotte, and they have veteran forward Eric Staal – who was in camp with Florida on a tryout contract – still skating with the team as a non-roster player. Zito said the the cap-crunched team will try to find a way to add Staal to the roster; his younger brother Marc Staal, a defenseman, is in his first year with the Panthers.

    “Every single team in the NHL usually faces significant adversity,” coach Paul Maurice said. “It helps define them. We’re not shying away from this.”

    Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

    Rasmus Sandin
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    TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

    The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

    “Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

    The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

    Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.

    Sharks D Nikolai Knyzhov tears Achilles tendon

    Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

    SAN JOSE, Calif. — San Jose Sharks defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov will miss the first few months of the season with a torn right Achilles tendon.

    General manager Mike Grier said Saturday that Knyzhov got hurt while participating in off-ice training. Knyzhov had surgery Wednesday, and the Sharks estimate it’ll take about six months to recover.

    The 24-year-old Knyzhov missed all of last season with a groin injury and the Sharks were hoping to have him back healthy this year.

    He played 56 games in the 2020-21 season, recording two goals and eight assists.

    Avalanche vs. Lightning: What to watch for in Game 3 of 2022 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Colorado Avalanche are halfway home to their first Stanley Cup title in 21 years. A 7-0 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 Saturday night has many believing this series is over. But the play now shifts away from Ball Arena in Denver, which could revitalize a Tampa Bay team that has been unable to deal with the speed of the Avalanche.

    Colorado has made the Lightning pay for each turnover and while the series isn’t over, there’s plenty of work left to do for both teams.

    Let’s take a look at what to watch for ahead of Game 3 tonight from AMALIE Arena in Tampa Bay.

    What to watch for in Game 3 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final

    • A bounce-back for Vasilevskiy: The Lightning goalie allowed a playoff career high seven goals in Game 2, a night to forget. But the netminder has found a way to rebound after tough nights like Saturday. Vasilevskiy is 19-13-1 after games where he’s allowed at least five goals, and 4-2 in that situation during these playoffs.

    “Listen, we left him out to dry tonight,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said after Game 2. “He’s been our backbone for years and years and years, and we owe it to him to have a better game next game. I mean, it could have been more. He made some unbelievable saves. By no means is this on him tonight. We’ve got to be better as a group.”

    • Injury updates: Brayden Point did not take part in Monday’s morning skate and head coach Jon Cooper said he will be a game-time decision. Point, you’ll recall, missed both the Second Round and Eastern Conference Final after suffering a lower-body injury in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the First Round.

    Burakovsky, meanwhile, hurt his hand blocking a shot in Game 2 and did not travel with the Avalanche on Sunday. He is expected to arrive in Tampa Bay Monday afternoon and will be game-time decision. Nicolas Aube-Kubel could find his way in the lineup, if necessary.

    Also a game-time decision? Nazem Kadri:

    Vasilevskiy and Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog took the morning off, but will be fine for Game 3.

    [Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]

    • Tampa Bay needs better shot quality: A picture, via Natural Stat Trick, that sums up the series:

    That’s a look at even strength shot attempts through two games. Look at how the Avalanche are able to get chances in close on Vasilevskiy, while the Lightning aren’t making life difficult for Darcy Kuemper.

    [MORE: The graduate: At 35, Jack Johnson earns degree from Michigan]

    • Workload piling up for Lightning?: Since 2020, the Lightning have played 67 postseason games, winning two Cups along the way. Add in 208 regular-season games and that’s a lot of hockey. But don’t look for them to use that as an excuse for this slow start to the Cup Final.

    “I think having the ultimate goal of the Stanley Cup in the building and there’s only two teams left, that trumps everything,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “I’m not a believer in, ‘You’ve played a lot of hockey.’ Isn’t that what you want to do? I’d rather be playing hockey than having a five-month summer every year. This is what we play for. This is what we coach for.

    “The toll is taken in the playoffs. That’s the toll. And the shot blocking, the groins, the hips, the cuts, the bruises, playing every second night. That’s the toll. And so when you get to the end, even though it doesn’t look like they’re banged up, they’re missing guys, we’re missing guys. We’ve got banged-up guys. That’s what the playoff toll does. It’s not what happened last year.”

    • Making history: In best-of-seven Stanley Cup Finals, teams that get out to a 2-0 series lead have won 90% of the time (47-5). Four of the five teams that managed to come back and win the series did so in seven games — the last being the 2011 Boston Bruins.

    The Lightning made a bit of history in Game 2 as they became the first post-expansion NHL team to go down 2-0 in both the Conference Final/Semifinal and Stanley Cup Final. They could become the first team to come back from being down in the final two round of the postseason 2-0 and win the Cup. According to the NHL, the 1965 Blackhawks, 1963 Red Wings, 1962 Blackhawks, 1959 Maple Leafs and 1945 Red Wings all were in the same situation, but ultimately lost the final round.

    COLORADO AVALANCHE v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (COL leads 2-0)

    Game 1 – Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 (OT)
    Game 2 – Avalanche 7, Lightning 0
    Game 3 – June 20: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
    Game 4 – June 22: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
    *Game 5 – June 24: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
    *Game 6 – June 26: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
    *Game 7 – June 28: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)

    ————

    Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.