3 takeaways from Golden Knights OT loss in Toronto

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Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press / AP

Toronto Maple Leafs center Mitchell Marner, back, watches as a goal by center John Tavares, goes in for an overtime goal past Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban during an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Toronto.

Fri, Nov 8, 2019 (9:47 a.m.)

It's going to leave a sour taste in the mouths of Golden Knights fans — having a third-period lead and losing in overtime. But it wasn't as painful as a few recent losses have been.

The Golden Knights fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday, but Vegas got a good game out of its backup goalie and extended its points streak to five games (2-0-3).

The Golden Knights penalty kill was just asked to do too much.

Vegas killed off its first five penalties, but Toronto connected with 30 seconds remaining on the sixth, a snipe from Auston Matthews, who improved to five goals and eight points in four career games against the Golden Knights. He also assisted on John Tavares' game-winner.

The Golden Knights' Max Pacioretty opened the game's scoring with an even-strength goal at 4:08 of the third period. Malcolm Subban stopped 35 of Toronto's 37 shots.

Here are three takeaways from the loss.

Trust in the backup

The biggest positive from Thursday's game was the play of Subban. He made 14 high-danger saves, according to Natural Stat Trick, the most he's seen this year and in his last 15 outings.

The Maple Leafs generated 3.55 expected goals in all situations, compared to 2.39 for Vegas, according to MoneyPuck. Subban helped keep more than a goal and a half off the board, which is big for a team looking to rest its starter more.

Subban was a bit of a surprise choice to start in net, even after Marc-Andre Fleury played Tuesday. Fleury played well, and facing a team as good as Toronto, logic suggested Fleury would be back in net.

Instead Vegas turned to Subban, who played his first game in the NHL in his hometown.

He performed admirably, reminding the Golden Knights that they have a good option when Fleury needs a breather. With a back-to-back in Washington and Detroit on Saturday and Sunday, expect to see Subban start again soon.

"You want your teammates and coaches to trust you that you can play in these kinds of games," Subban told AT&T SportsNet. "Hopefully I did that tonight, though obviously I came up short."

3-on-3 not kind to Golden Knights

When the game ends in a regulation tie, it has benefited Vegas to survive the 3-on-3 period and get a shootout, where it is 2-0 this season.

But the Golden Knights are 0-3 in games decided in overtime. In five games this season, they have been outshot 12-8 in overtime and have not won in a game decided at 3-on-3 since Jan. 12 against Chicago.

"We've got to clean up the overtime," Pacioretty told AT&T SportsNet. "We're not getting chances really or even getting possession of the puck. We need to really figure that out and figure out why and really just work at it."

Pacioretty puck luck

Max Pacioretty can't catch a break. Entering the game, NHL.com credited him with hitting the post four times. A second-period denting of the iron gives him five, which ties him for the league lead.

Pacioretty hasn't been struggling (13 points in 16 games coming in), but he wasn't finding the net. The underlying numbers suggested he should be, but he was biding his time racking up assists while he waited for the puck luck to come his way.

So naturally, a lucky break led to his goal. A scramble in front of the net saw Toronto defenseman Cody Ceci try to clear the puck but instead pass it right to Pacioretty, while his goalie was on the other side of the crease. It was an easy tap-in for Pacioretty's fourth goal of the season.

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