The Toronto Maple Leafs were in Los Angeles Monday night to do battle against the streaking LA Kings. This would mark the third game for newly appointed interim head coach Peter Horachek, whose first game behind the bench fell short due to a poor showing by the Leafs against Washington. Toronto rebounded in his second game against Columbus.
Windsor - January 13, 2015 - The Toronto Maple Leafs were in Los Angeles Monday night to do battle against the streaking LA Kings. This would mark the third game for newly appointed interim head coach Peter Horachek, whose tutelage has sparked a competitive nature in the Leafs, who were coming off a big 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Less than a minute in, the Kings battled down the ice and netted the first goal of the game. Jonathan Bernier was beat by a Anze Kopitar snapper, that initially looked like it harmlessly bounced off the crossbar, but unfortunately for the Leafs, it was later reviewed and determined to be a goal.
It got worse before it got better as David Clarkson was sent to the sin bin due to a high stick penalty after a pre-faceoff scuffle with Kings' captain Dustin Brown. The Leafs' penalty kill managed to thwart the Kings' attack during the two-minute minor.
During a four-on-four both teams shared possession of the puck; however, neither team was able to net a tally. The Leafs' attack looked promising, with Bozak and Santorelli both leading fast-break opportunities for the Buds. The gritty play by both teams made for an interesting first half of play in the first period.
End of the first erupted into an exchange of fists between Troy Bodie and Kyle Clifford. Both received five for fighting.
The first ended 1-0 in favour of the Kings, with LA producing 7 shots on goal, while the Leafs only managed a mediocre 3 shots on net.
The second opened with the Leafs gaining the man advantage early in the period. After a few tasty chances, the Leafs failed to solve the Kings' Martin Jones. Another chance occurred after Kessel managed to steal the puck in the Kings' zone and cycle the puck to the point where Jake Gardiner wired the puck on net.
Bernier was tested often in the second, as the Kings managed to manufacture multiple scoring chances, with one squeaking behind Bernier, only to slide harmlessly outside the post.
The second period was a mere image of the first. The Leafs made their presence felt by laying hit after hit on their opponents. The only noticeable difference being the Leafs managing multiple chances.
After forty minutes, the score remained 1-0, with the final buzzer coming after a huge last second save by Bernier. The Leafs ended with 11 total shots on goal, with the Kings only managing to raise their shots to 13.
The Leafs began the third determined to dominate the Kings. The effort put forward by the Toronto based club earned an audible "Go Leafs Go" chant from the Los Angeles crowd. The Buds were able to cycle the puck well in the offensive zone, with a lot of credit going to the solid play by Leafs' captain Dion Phaneuf.
A delay of game penalty put Toronto back on the powerplay with just under eight minutes left to play. Alas, they Leafs failed to put the puck behind the Kings' impressive, young goaltender.
The end of the third witnessed the Kings playing defensively, with multiple attempts to key the puck against the boards to limit the amount of possession available to the Leafs.
With a minute remaining, Marian Gaborik put an end to any hopes of a Leafs' comeback by scoring an empty-netter. The Leafs did not deserve the outcome of the 2-0 deficit, as they dominated the Kings in both the second and third periods. Unfortunately, the Buds ran into a hot goalie in Jones, who earned his seventh shutout of his short career.
The Leafs managed to play a more complete game in this effort against a strong Los Angeles team. The Leafs were promising in the offensive zone, as all five players on the ice participated in a team-oriented attack, rather than focusing on the efforts of Kessel, Bozak, Kadri, and JVR.
The Leafs will look to bounce back on their visit to California, as they will face off against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.