After a disastrous performance against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, it was important that the Leafs come out and get off to a good start tonight. And that’s exactly what they did, buzzing all over the Kings from the drop of the puck, as William Nylander came in on a partial two on one with Auston Matthews, and…..skated around the net. This has been something that has plagued Nylander from time to time, not making a decision quickly enough. It would be ok though as shortly thereafter JvR would drop a quick pass to Mitch Marner, who passed out in front of the net to Tyler Bozak who….completely whiffed on the shot. It didn’t matter though, because the puck hit his skate and bounced in to give the Leafs a 1-0 lead. The Leafs would continue to play well and generate chances, as well as doing a fantastic job stifling the Kings defensively to carry a 1-0 lead into the 2nd period.
Once again the Leafs came out and swarmed all over the Kings, generating chance after chance, the best of which came as Connor Brown was just trying to waste time with the puck killing off a penalty, until Nikita Soshnikov came streaking towards the net. Brown zipped a pass across to him, however Jonathan Quick was equal to the task coming away with his best save of the night. It would remain 1-0 until later on when, after the 2nd icing call against the Kings in the span of 30 seconds, Brian Boyle won a draw back to Nikita Zaitsev, who managed to put a seeing eye wrister from the point past Quick to make it 2-0 Leafs. The Kings would take over a bit at this point, generating pressure and chances against the Leafs, however Freddie Andersen and his posts were up to the challenge as the Kings twice found iron, but were unable to find twine, ending the 2nd period with the score 2-0 Leafs.
The Leafs would start the 3rd on the penalty kill with Mitch Marner in the box, and the Kings would quickly capitalize with a little bit of luck, as Anze Kopitar would take a shot that was heading wide of the net, before it caromed in off of Nikita Zaitsev’s face to cut the lead to one. Still the Leafs wouldn’t be fazed as they continued to take the play to the Kings but were just not able to extend the lead. Shortly thereafter, Alexey Marchenko would wallop Tanner Pearson along the boards. Apparently he thought he’d killed him, because he left him all alone, which was unfortunate when Pearson managed to flip the puck over a diving Freddie Andersen to tie the game. Not sure why Freddie decided to go to the poke check there, but what’s done is done. The Leafs would not wilt though, going blow for blow with the Kings and taking the game to overtime to preserve an important point.
It would be impossible to describe all the action that occurred in this overtime period. Freddie Andersen stoned the Kings on a breakaway, and a 3 on 1, the latter with the help of Jake Gardiner, who was fantastic positionally on the play. Jonathan Quick robbed the Leafs on 5 different occasions and got a little lucky when Tyler Bozak had a gaping net in front of him and fired it off the outside of the cage. Unfortunately, nothing would be decided in OT and we’d have to head to the ever anti climactic shootout to decide things.
The Leafs fell to the Kings in the shootout 3-2. They did however earn a point to remain tied for the second wildcard spot with the New York Islanders and creep to within two points of Boston for 3rd in the Atlantic division. They’ll be in action tomorrow night vs the Anaheim Ducks and old pal Randy Carlyle.
Toronto Goal 2:04 T. Bozak (15) assisted by M. Marner and J. van Riemsdyk
Toronto Goal 7:20 N. Zaitsev (3) assisted by B. Boyle
Los Angeles Goal 0:27 A. Kopitar (7) (power play) assisted by D. Doughty and J. Muzzin
Los Angeles Goal 1:57 T. Pearson (22) assisted by A. Martinez and T. Toffoli
SHOTS ON GOAL
MIKE BABCOCK POST GAME SCRUM