TORONTO (AP) — Mitch Marner looked at two things as he took his turn for Toronto in the shootout. First, he had to get the puck under control as it skidded and bounced on the ice. Then he peered into the face of Vegas goaltender Maxime Lagace.
Marner skated out wide before cutting in, getting Lagace to commit with a deke before tucking the puck into the net to send Toronto to a 4-3 victory over Vegas on Monday night after the Maple Leafs blew a two-goal lead.
“Just trying to take a look at the puck and calm it down then look at the goalie to go eye-to-eye and see what he’s going to react to,” Marner said. “It stayed on my stick fortunately and didn’t bounce away.”
Nazem Kadri had two goals and James van Riemsdyk also scored for Toronto, which led 3-1 after one. Frederik Andersen made 22 saves and stopped three skaters in the shootout.
Kadri has confidence in Marner’s shootout abilities, but he also noticed that the ice had been chewed up from the third period and the back-and-forth of 3-on-3 overtime.
“He’s pretty money. He’s got great hands, he can score, skill player, so he’s kinda made for that,” Kadri said. “I saw the puck rolling on him a little bit to begin with and I got a little nervous for him but he stayed pretty composed and he made it look effortless.”
Deryk Engelland’s third-period goal for Vegas forced overtime. James Neal and Reilly Smith also scored for the expansion Golden Knights, and Lagace stopped 25 shots.
The win was a much-needed boost for a Maple Leafs team that had dropped five of its past six games — including three losses on a four-game road trip — after starting the year with a 7-1 record.
“Obviously, (giving up a lead) is not something we want to do later down the road, but right now it’s a character win to come back and do that,” Marner said. “We’re happy about this win and now it’s time to build and get ready for the next one.”
Kadri put Toronto in front with a power-play goal 4:14 into the first. A long shot in by Morgan Rielly rebounded off Lagace and Kadri snapped it in from the slot, with van Riemsdyk serving as a screen right on the crease.
Vegas quickly replied with a fluky goal. A long shot deflected off the skate of Neal as he tussled with a Leafs defender and bounced in past Andersen.
Van Riemsdyk restored Toronto’s lead on the power play near the midway point of the first, but Auston Matthews did the heavy lifting on the play.
Carrying the puck down the right wing, Matthews spun around Vegas defenseman Luca Sbisa and drove to the net, getting a shot on Lagace. The rebound came to van Riemsdyk’s stick and he made it 2-1 at 9:31.
Matthews had left the morning skate early with what Leafs coach Mike Babcock described as “soreness.”
“I knew in the morning that I’d play,” Matthews said. “I just wanted to get out there and see how I felt. I felt fine, felt good enough to play.”
Kadri scored his second of the night with 4:57 left in the opening period. Standing in the slot with his back to the net, he took a cross-ice feed from Patrick Marleau, put the puck on his backhand and shot it past Lagace as he fell to his knees.
The pace of the game slowed down in the second, with Toronto having to kill a lengthy two-man advantage starting with a too many men on the ice penalty 12 minutes into the period. Zach Hyman took another penalty 48 seconds later when he was called for goaltender interference after he ran into Lagace on a breakaway. The Maple Leafs argued he had been taken down by a Vegas defender, but the penalty stood.
Although Toronto kept the Golden Knights scoreless for those overlapping power plays, it couldn’t hold them off later in the period with Matthews off for tripping. Smith cut into the Leafs’ lead with just over a minute to go in the second, rifling in a rebound.
Engelland tied it 6:16 into the third, wiring a wrist shot into the far corner of the net over Andersen’s shoulder.
NOTES: The announced attendance was 19,398. … Toronto FC players Alex Bono and Jay Chapman were in the crowd a day after the Major League Soccer club advanced to the Eastern Conference final. … It was the first time in history Vegas and Toronto played each other since the Golden Knights officially joined the NHL on March 1.
Golden Knights: Visit Montreal on Tuesday night.
Maple Leafs: Host Minnesota on Wednesday night.