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Maple Leafs’ William Nylander scores Golden Knights shootout winner as Jack Campbell shines again in goal

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William Nylander finished what he had started Tuesday night in the desert.

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The Maple Leafs winger opened the scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights and then scored the only shootout goal, giving the Leafs a 4-3 victory at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Nylander, the last shooter in the skills competition after overtime, fired a shot over goaltender Robin Lehner’s receiving glove. Nylander was the only player on either side to score in the shootout.

On the Leafs’ side, Jack Campbell, who was brilliant all night, stopped Evgenii Dadonov, Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault in a shootout.

Auston Matthews scored in his eighth straight road game on Nov. 24 in Los Angeles.

The victory brought some milestones for Campbell, who turned 30 on Sunday.

Campbell recorded his 18th victory, setting a personal best for a season. It was his 26th start, tying a career high in 2019-20 with the Los Angeles Leafs and Kings.

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In short, the stable Campbell has become a star and will be seriously considered to help represent the Atlantic Division at the All-Star Game in Vegas on February 4-5.

“The big question for him was: can he stay healthy? Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He did a great job for it.

“Despite the workload, there was not a moment when he felt unable to train or where it was in pain. We have managed his workload on certain training days, but it is above all preventive. I think he is well placed with his body and handles it well.

“No matter how he answers questions (when Campbell is tough on himself after losses) the proof is when he’s in the net. He’s tied and he comes out and gets ready for the next day and comes back and is ready to play. He’s been great all season.

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Shots on goal after 65 minutes were 34-18 for Vegas. Neither team had a good chance of scoring in overtime.

Down 3-1 in the third period, Vegas tied the game at 11:48 when Alex Pietrangelo rigged and then fired a shot past Campbell on a 5-3 power play in Vegas. With Kyle Clifford serving a minor trip, the Leafs were penalized for too many men on the ice. Lehner stopped Ondrej Kase in a breakaway before the bench miner was called up.

William Karlsson reduced Toronto’s lead to one goal at 1:34 after Reilly Smith defeated Morgan Rielly and forward check Alex Kerfoot to recover the puck.

Kase was back in the Leafs roster after missing the last two games with a minor injury he sustained in the gym last week.

The second period was representative of what the best teams sometimes need to do to win hockey games – be vigilant to help them get through a tough time.

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The Leafs were flat as the runner-up progressed, going 11 minutes without a shot on goal, and forced Campbell to make several top-notch saves (including a blocker stop on Marchessault). After Campbell, who finished with 14 saves in the second, gave his teammates time, Matthews and Ilya Mikheyev scored five minutes apart to give Toronto a 3-1 lead.

Kase and Michael Bunting showed off their skills, tapping on a few short passes to set Matthews up for a home deposit at 11:43 am. With the assist, Kase extended his point streak to seven games.

At 4:46 PM, Mikheyev scored his fourth goal in five games when he bounced off a Wayne Simmonds shot on the goal strip in front of Lehner.

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The game was tied 1-1 after one spell, although that flattered Vegas. The Leafs had 24 shooting attempts and limited the Golden Knights to eight.

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Nylander gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead at 1:22 after taking a smart pass from Rielly and passing Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb. Nylander scored his 16th of the season by beating Lehner with a forehand.

In the 13th minute, Keegan Kolesar scored 38 seconds after Nick Ritchie took an unnecessary minor hook in front of the Vegas net.

Matthews had a pair of terrific open looks in the first but couldn’t convert. He hit the post over Lehner’s glove in the first and was knocked back by a Lehner’s glove save in the second.

The Leafs have been left without forwards Mitch Marner and Pierre Engvall, who are ending their stay in COVID-19 protocol.

The Golden Knights were without four players – defensemen Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez and forwards Nicolas Roy and Nolan Patrick – who were placed according to protocol.

tkoshan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/koshtorontosun

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