Los Angeles Kings 2015-16 Regular Season:
Game 32 @ Toronto, December 19, 2015, 4pm PST
Last season, the home teams won both meetings. The Los Angeles Kings will hope to change that this season as they vie to start a new winning streak against their ex-netminder, Jonathan Bernier, and the 10-13-7 Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
While Garret Sparks has been the new story in goal for the Leafs, he was forced to leave the game on Thursday night. Bernier, who had recently returned from a stint in the AHL, came in on relief. The Leafs, despite having a 4-2 lead in the third, lost in overtime to the San Jose Sharks on home ice. They will hope for better luck against another California club.
The last time the Kings were at the Air Canada Centre was on Dec. 14, 2014 when they fell to the Leafs in a shootout by a 4-3 count. Joffrey Lupul scored the winner for the home side while Alec Martinez notched a pair of assists in a losing effort.
The Leafs, though, enter Saturday’s contest with two-straight overtime losses, but despite being tied for last in the East cannot be overlooked. The Kings have not had any smooth outings against teams lower than them in the standings and while they have won some of those games, they could see some improvement, especially when it means closing out their longest road trip to date with a victory.
As for the Kings, they enter Saturday on a high. They have earned points in 10 of their last 11 games, winning eight of them, and are coming off an encouraging 3-0 shutout at the Bell Centre against the formidable Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. There, Jonathan Quick countered his subpar performance in Ottawa with his best of the season, stopping all 45 saves for his second shutout of the season. Also, while they did allow an exorbitant number of shots, the Los Angeles defense was on their game, jumping to their goaltender’s aid when needed.
In addition, Friday’s practice saw the reunion of That 70’s Line as Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli welcomed Tanner Pearson back to the fold. Milan Lucic, while he has had success with Carter and Toffoli, is believed to be moving to a line with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, who have had great success as of late with each other.
The Kings will hope to end their road swing on a positive note but Jonathan Bernier, wanting a bit of vindication against his old team, will have other ideas. We’ll see what gives on Saturday.
Enjoy the game!