BROWN PUTS LEAFS ON TOP EARLY IN FIRST, ANDERSEN CONTINUES STELLAR PLAY IN NET
The Leafs have been intent on performing better in front of their home crowd, and that's just what they did Tuesday hosting the Vegas Golden Knights. Although Toronto had issues scoring the first goal of the game of late, winger Connor Brown got the Buds on the board first when he took control of the puck in the slot in front of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and beat the veteran netminder with a wrist shot at 5:30 of the opening period:
Video: VGK@TOR: Brown steals puck, beats Fleury
Brown's goal was his second of the season. And Leafs head coach Mike Babcock got what has become the usual stellar performance from goalie Frederik Andersen, who kept the pressing Knights at bay despite them outshooting Toronto 13-8 in the first 20 minutes of action.
KNIGHTS CONTINUE PRESSURE ON BUDS, BUT MARNER'S SECOND-PERIOD GOAL KEEPS THEM ON TOP THROUGH TWO PERIODS
The Golden Knights hadn't played well on the road (2-5-0) entering Tuesday's game, but they came into the second period even more determined to get pucks at Andersen, outshooting the Leafs 16-8 in the middle frame and spending the majority of the period in Toronto's zone. But Andersen remained resilient - and although Vegas did get on the board at the 11:22 mark on a Cody Eakin goal, the Leafs by then were working with a 2-0 lead; that was thanks to linemates Mitch Marner and John Tavares, who came out of the puck-drop at the start of the second with possession, streaked down the ice, and Marner fired it past Fleury for his fifth goal of the season.
Video: VGK@TOR: Marner scores nine seconds into the 2nd
Marner's goal gave him eight points in his past seven games, and underscored the fact that, while he's renowned for his playmaking and passing abilities, the 21-year-old's shooting talents are something to behold as well.
KNIGHTS KEEP PUSHING, BUT ANDERSEN KEEPS PUSHING BACK, GUIDES LEAFS TO SECOND STRAIGHT WIN
The Leafs clamped down on the Knights in the third, allowing them only eight shots on Andersen, who was stellar throughout the game and who stopped 36 of 37 shots. And after Vegas coach Gerard Gallant pulled Fleury for the extra skater with a couple of minutes left in regulation, centre Nazem Kadri registered his fourth goal of the season on an empty-netter:
Video: VGK@TOR: Kadri pots empty-net goal
Kadri and the Leafs earned their second straight victory with the win, and have a chance at making it three in a row if they beat New Jersey Friday at Scotiabank Arena. The Devils have a dismal 1-4-0 road record, but most hockey fans are aware any team in the NHL can be a winning team on any given night, so Babcock and his charges will need to be as focused and prepared as they were in Tuesday's victory.