Leafs, Knights navigating rough patches ahead of matchup
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TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Vegas Golden Knights have struggled recently after having strong starts to the season.
The Golden Knights, surprisingly good for a first-year expansion team, made a stride in the right direction Saturday with a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators to end a three-game losing streak.
They hope to continue the winning trend Monday when they face the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. It will be the fifth game of the Golden Knight's six-game road trip. The three losses did not shake the new team's belief in itself.
"Nobody was panicking," said Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault, who had a goal and two assists. "We've been playing well as a team. Everyone's trying to stay loose. After three games like that, everyone could've tied up their sticks. But we know we're a good team, and we have a lot of experienced guys in the room who aren't going to let things get away from us."
The Maple Leafs are glad to be home after completing a 1-3 road trip with a 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
"We've got to go home and have an off-day (Sunday) and get regrouped and get back on track," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after the game Saturday. "We were sitting pretty good a week ago or 10 days ago, or however long it was. Now, we've got to get back on track and get things fixed up and get playing good and get some swagger back in our game."
The Golden Knights (9-4-0) won eight of their first nine games, while the Maple Leafs (8-7-0) won seven of their first nine games.
There has been no secret to the early success of the Golden Knights -- they work hard.
"They're the hardest-working team in the NHL, and they proved it again (Saturday)," Senators coach Guy Boucher said.
"It's 20 guys playing for 60 minutes," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. "That's a big part of it. ... when we forecheck and play hard in the offensive zone, we usually have a good game."
While the Golden Knights are exceeding expectations, the Maple Leafs were expected to do well this season after making the playoffs with a young group last season. They looked good starting the season, but have been springing leaks defensively.
"Obviously, we're not in a situation that we're handling this very well and so we're not playing good enough," Babcock said. "We'll have to, like I said, get ourselves regrouped. We've got a Vegas team that seems to win every night in our building here and we've got to get ready to play."
Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen has been criticized at times. Left winger Matt Martin, who had a career-best three assists on Saturday, defended Andersen after the loss to the Blues.
"I think we just left Freddie out to dry, really," Martin said. "It seems to be happening a lot. Obviously, everyone talks about the goaltender and I think it's more us than anything. You can only give up so many chances right in front of the net, we just hang him out to dry and don't really give him a chance.
"We've got a lot to clean up. We've got to simplify. When we get pucks in we dominate, when we don't we struggle. That's really the moral of the story right there. I think you go through ruts like this. Obviously, it's coming at a bad time for us, but we'd like to get back on track here."
Golden Knights goaltender Maxime Lagace, who earned his first NHL victory Saturday, is expected to start against the Maple Leafs on Monday.
Updated November 5, 2017