Time to panic? Vegas, Colorado, Toronto off to rough starts

Oct 26, 2021, 11:47 AM | Updated: Oct 28, 2021, 1:24 am
Toronto Maple Leafs' David Kampf (64) and Pittsburgh Penguins' Drew O'Connor (10) watch a puck get ...

Toronto Maple Leafs' David Kampf (64) and Pittsburgh Penguins' Drew O'Connor (10) watch a puck get by Maple Leafs' Jack Campbell for a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Pittsburgh, Pa. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

(AP Photo/Fred Vuich)

              Vegas Golden Knights center Jake Leschyshyn, left, struggles to control the puck as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Murray pursues in the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Edmonton Oilers right wing Zack Kassian, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring during the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021, in Las Vegas. Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo skates by at right. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)
            
              Toronto Maple Leafs' David Kampf (64) and Pittsburgh Penguins' Drew O'Connor (10) watch a puck get by Maple Leafs' Jack Campbell for a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Pittsburgh, Pa. (AP Photo/Fred Vuich)
            
              Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog, right, has his shot stopped by Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner, back left, as defenseman Alex Pietrangelo looks on in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
            
              Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Corey Perry (10) and Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher (37) scrap during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

By the time the St. Louis Blues won their fifth consecutive game to open the season, the Florida Panthers had already become the first team since 2015 to open with six victories in a row.

Along with the Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers, they made NHL history with four teams starting 5-0-0 for the first time. Preseason Stanley Cup contender picks Colorado, Vegas and Toronto have combined for six wins — and 13 losses.

It’s getting late kind of early for the Avalanche, Golden Knights and Maple Leafs — even if it’s just two weeks into an 82-game season.

“Those teams had great expectations, so I think when you go through two weeks and you’re not playing great hockey, people get a sense of a little bit of a panic, especially at the start of the year,” said former coach Rick Tocchet, who’s now a TNT analyst. “I don’t think I’m as alarmed with Colorado. Even Vegas (because) they got some guys hurt. Toronto, I’m a little bit surprised.”

The Leafs have lost five of seven, including a 7-1 drubbing in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. Auston Matthews, last season’s goal-scoring leader, didn’t get his first until game seven and All-Star winger Mitch Marner has not been on the ice for a Toronto goal.

“That noise and the panic from the outside can’t shake us because there’s really no reason it should,” Matthews said. “Within the room, we realize obviously that we need to play better. But at the same time, it’s not like an end all, be all. It’s not the end of the world right now.”

The Golden Knights tried to send that message on social media after starting 1-2-0 by tweeting: “FACT: there are 79 games left.” Two more losses followed for Vegas, which is without captain Mark Stone and top winger Max Pacioretty long term and ranks 29th out of 32 teams in scoring.

“We haven’t scored,” coach Peter DeBoer told reporters Sunday. “We still have to find a way to win games. That’s where we’re at.”

The Golden Knights snapped a four-game skid and handed the Avalanche a fourth loss in five games, but remain the only team not to score a power-play goal and are now 0 for 14.

The Avalanche missed MVP finalist Nathan MacKinnon for their first two games after he tested positive for the coronavirus and captain Gabriel Landeskog for two after he was suspended for boarding. Both are back now, though.

“It’s an experienced group, obviously a group that’s had a lot of success,” new Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper said last week. “Everyone knows what we’ve got to do. We’ll just keep working, and I’m confident we’ll get this righted here.”

There’s no lack of confidence around the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, who went until their seventh game before winning in regulation and won’t have back-to-back playoff leading scorer Nikita Kucherov for several weeks because of injury. Veteran winger Alex Killorn acknowledged players were “fighting it” a bit and figures some gritty goals could get the Lightning going.

The Leafs certainly hope for the same. Only the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes have averaged fewer goals, and only the solid play of goaltender Jack Campbell has kept Toronto from giving up more.

“We have to prove that we’re going to break some bad habits,” defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “The intensity has to go up, and we’ve got to realize that we’ve got to bounce back.”

ANDERSEN UNBEATEN

Frederik Andersen, the goalie the Maple Leafs let go, made 24 saves to beat them 4-1 Monday night and improve to 5-0-0 with Carolina. Andersen has been a great fit early on with the Hurricanes, who took a risk by turning over their entire tandem in net during the offseason.

“He’s a big part of our team,” Hurricanes forward Andrei Svechnikov said. “He’s just been amazing for us. I feel like he’s just so calm that he’s playing so confident, and we’re going to see that over and over.”

BLACKHAWKS FALLOUT

Stan Bowman is out as general manager in Chicago in the wake of the findings of an investigation into the Blackhawks’ handling of sexual assault allegations in 2010. But that may not be the end of the aftermath.

Florida coach Joel Quenneville and Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff were present at a meeting about the situation 11 years ago, and while their respective testimonies indicate they weren’t aware of the full scope of the assault, their involvement puts them in the spotlight.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said he would mee with Quenneville and Cheveldayoff to discuss their roles in the scandal. Quenneville said he is scheduled to meet with Bettman on Thursday, while Cheveldayoff’s visit could come as early as next week.

GAME OF THE WEEK

The Avalanche get another test Thursday night at the Blues, who look primed for another deep playoff run.

LEADERS

Goals: Alex Ovechkin (Washington), Andrew Mangiapane and Elias Lindholm (Calgary), 7; Assists: Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary), 8; Points: McDavid, 13; Ice time: Darnell Nurse (Edmonton), 27:37; Wins: Frederik Andersen (Carolina), Cam Talbot (Minnesota) 5; Goals-against average (min. 3 games): James Reimer (San Jose, 1.19; Save percentage (min. 3 games): Andersen, .946.

___

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton watches a play during an NFL football game against...
Associated Press

Sean Payton is officially named Broncos head coach

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — The Denver Broncos named Sean Payton the 20th head coach in franchise history Friday, 40 days after firing rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett. “Sean Payton is an outstanding leader and Super Bowl champion with a brilliant offensive mind. He shares our commitment to winning championships for Broncos Country and we’re excited […]
18 hours ago
Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks lays on the ground during a fight with Cleveland Cavaliers ...
Associated Press

NBA suspends Brooks, fines Mitchell for Grizz-Cavs scuffle

Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks has been suspended one game without pay by the NBA, and Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell fined $20,000 for their roles in an on-court incident on Thursday night. The league announced the punishments on Friday. Brooks swung and struck Mitchell in the groin area during the third quarter after the […]
18 hours ago
FILE - Horse trainer Bob Baffert leaves federal court July 12, 2021, in the Brooklyn borough of New...
Associated Press

Baffert: 2-year Churchill Downs suspension hurt reputation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Churchill Downs never gave advance notice nor reached out to explain its two-year suspension, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Friday in federal court, and reiterated that the penalty has caused irreparable harm to his business and reputation. Baffert has sued the historic track and is seeking a temporary injunction […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

Caddie for amateur at Pebble Beach collapses during tourney

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The caddie for an amateur in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am collapsed on the 11th fairway Friday and was taken to the hospital to be evaluated. The PGA Tour did not release the name of the caddie or whether he was working for country singer Lukas Nelson or Pebble Beach […]
18 hours ago
FILE - United States Rosey Fletcher clears a gate during the women's snowboard parallel giant slalo...
Associated Press

Snowboarders sue coach, USOPC in assault, harassment case

Olympic bronze medalist Rosey Fletcher has filed a lawsuit accusing former snowboard coach Peter Foley of sexually assaulting, harassing and intimidating members of his team for years, while the organizations overseeing the team did nothing to stop it. Fletcher is a plaintiff in one of two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles […]
18 hours ago
A person gambles as betting odds for NFL football's Super Bowl are displayed on monitors at the Cir...
Associated Press

Super Bowl prop betting increasing in popularity

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jay Kornegay was behind the counter in 2004 when someone approached with $5,000 to bet on the Super Bowl but had no idea how to decide. The man, not a regular sports bettor, thought for a few moments and decided to put it all on the Carolina Panthers to score exactly […]
2 days ago
Time to panic? Vegas, Colorado, Toronto off to rough starts