LOS ANGELES — Home has been anything but sweet for the Kings lately as they passed the midpoint of their seven-game stint at Staples Center with an 0-3-1 record after falling to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-2, on Wednesday night.
The Kings are now winless in their last five games, while Toronto has won 12 of its last 14.
Winger Viktor Arvidsson had a goal and an assist for the Kings, as did defenseman Sean Durzi in his NHL debut. Jonathan Quick allowed six goals on 38 shots. Quick had been sizzling in his last six starts and the Kings beat the Leafs, 5-1, in Toronto on Nov. 8, but those trends both reversed on Wednesday despite some spectacular saves.
“One team skated like they were on top of the ice and smooth and fast, and the other team just sloshed through the slush, if you will,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We were slow. When we were quick to make decisions we had poor execution. We weren’t together and it just was not a good night against a real good hockey team.”
Forward Alex Kerfoot, winger Michael Bunting and winger Pierre Engvall scored goals for Toronto, as did centers John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Jason Spezza. Tavares, Matthews and Engvall added an assist each. Former Kings winger Wayne Simmonds and defenseman T.J. Brodie contributed two assists apiece, while defenseman Rasmus Sandin had a career-high three assists.
Former Kings goalie Jack Campbell stopped 30 shots to earn his ninth victory in his last 11 decisions, and he has allowed two goals or fewer in 10 of those 11 appearances.
The third period was largely academic, but the Leafs tacked on another goal early for good measure. Quick made an athletic, lunging stick save on Sandin, but Bunting followed up with a sweep attempt that went in off the skate of Kings center Phillip Danault.
Durzi would add a power-play goal, his first career goal, with 3:53 to play. His rising wrist shot from between the circles went in, but he let his family do the celebrating in the stands. Durzi grew up near Toronto in Mississauga, Ontario, and he was drafted by the Maple Leafs.
“It was nice. Obviously, you know, it was garbage time in the hockey game but to get it out of the way was good. I thought there was a lot to clean up, but it was a really good feeling,” Durzi said.
For the Kings, the second period started auspiciously but unraveled rapidly.
On a night when four former Kings were skating for the opposition, it was the newest King knotting the score 81 seconds into the middle period. Carrying a power play over from the first period, the Kings moved the puck high to Durzi, who loaded up a shot from the right point that Arvidsson deflected in for the equalizer. It was Arvidsson’s first goal since Oct. 30 and the Kings’ first power-play goal in five games.
That stalemate proved ephemeral, as less than two minutes later Toronto reclaimed the lead. Simmonds fooled defenseman Olli Maatta with a shot fake on the wing, then made a pull-and-drag move to bring the puck inside before sending a pass to Engvall for a tap-in goal.
Simmonds was a healthy scratch on Nov. 13 against the Buffalo Sabres for the first time in his 14-year career. He has three points and a plus-three rating since, and he has contributed to the momentum Toronto has been building.
“We have a lot of fun coming to work every single day with one another. We enjoy each other’s company and right now we’re just battling for everybody in that room,” Simmonds said.
Toronto extended its advantage just 2:07 later, when Tavares tipped in winger William Nylander’s shot from above the right faceoff circle.
The Leafs had played effectively from below the goal line early in the game and that’s where they stretched their lead further with Matthews and Tavares working behind the net 13:15 into the period. Tavares wrapped around the front of the net and dished the puck to Matthews, who beat center Anze Kopitar to the goalmouth and flicked a backhand by Quick.
A mere 2:20 later, Toronto piled on a fifth goal on the power play, winning an offensive-zone draw and passing the puck with aplomb before Spezza loaded up a slapshot to the short side through a Nick Ritchie screen. It was their fourth goal in six shots, effectively sealing the victory before the second intermission.
“They’re a really good transition hockey team, a lot of skill with speed coming from different areas and it showed,” Durzi said.
Toronto had gotten on the board first, 4:30 into the game. Simmonds recovered a blocked shot in the Toronto zone and ignited a rush with an alert pass ahead to Ondrej Kase. Kase’s pass found Kerfoot, who fended off Kopitar as he wedged a backhand goal past Quick.
Five minutes later, Simmonds and Engvall both had chances from close range, which Quick denied to keep the Kings in the game.
The Kings were being out-shot 12-3 but then reeled off six straight, including a pair of dangerous opportunities for forward Lias Andersson. Andersson last played on Nov. 3, returning from injury to step in for Andreas Athanasiou, who entered COVID-related protocol on Wednesday.
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)