Game 32; 21-7-4
TORONTO – Just one night after pounding the Canadiens 6-0, the Los Angeles Kings were right back to work on Wednesday as they traveled to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for a date with the Maple Leafs.
In what was a reunion of sorts, former King Jonathan Bernier faced his former team since being traded to the Leafs this past summer. Conversely, Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin would have made their returns to Toronto since going the other way in said trade. Unfortunately for Frattin, he was a healthy scratch and head coach Darryl Sutter decided to stick with the hot hand in goal and start Martin Jones for the second time in as many nights.
Jones, coming off back-to-back shutouts, was looking to match a franchise record with his third-straight shutout set in October 2011 by Jonathan Quick.
Hoping to take advantage of a tired team, the Leafs came out strong, generating multiple scoring chances against the Kings. But Martin Jones was magnificent in the early going turning away all 11 first-period shots he faced.
One area the Kings needed to improve on was the power play where they struggled for the last few weeks. After scoring on the man-advantage on Tuesday in Montreal, there was at least a bit of promise that the Los Angeles power play would turn a corner. That promise continued on Wednesday as, at 10:30 of the first, Drew Doughty fired a point shot into the top corner to give the Kings the early lead. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter helped out with the assists.
In the second, the Leafs continued to press, outshooting Los Angeles 10-8 – but they still needed to solve Jones. At the 14:30 mark of the middle frame, they did.
With penalties to Willie Mitchell and the aforementioned Doughty, the Leafs found themselves with a 5-on-3 man-advantage and they capitalized as Cody Franson snapped his first of the year past Jones to not only tie the game but end the rookie netminder’s shutout streak at 177:16. Despite having his streak snapped, however, Jones was not the least bit fazed.
In the third, Toronto poured it on by firing 18 shots on Jones only to be turned away each time. But despite being heavily outshot, it was the Kings who capitalized as Jeff Carter broke out on a 2-on-1 and instead of passing, elected to shoot and was right on beating Bernier five-hole for his eighth on a relatively weak shot to regain the Los Angeles lead at 9:40 of the period. Slava Voynov and Jordan got the assists.
After a little more pressure by the Leafs, the Kings put this one to bed as Kyle Clifford wristed his third past Bernier with just 1:59 to go in regulation. In addition to Mike Richards’s second assist on the night, Tyler Toffoli got a helper as well.
While he, as previously mentioned, saw his shutout come to an end, Martin Jones was spectacular – almost too spectacular for someone who had just played 24 hours earlier. The rookie frustrated the Leafs and their fans all night by making 38 saves and earning First Star of the Game honours for the second time in as many nights. Thanks in large parts to his effort, the Kings have now won five straight games and have earned points in 16 of their last 17.
Overall, despite the solid goaltending and sound defense, the Los Angeles Kings admittedly did get away with a few non-calls in the third. Of course, at the same time, the Maple Leafs got away with one or two earlier in the contest.
With the victory, the Kings have now swept their last four back-to-back schedules and will look forward to resting as they move on to Ottawa for a Saturday afternoon affair with the Senators.