Game 40; 26-12-2
LOS ANGELES — The last time these two clubs played, it led to the worst outing of the season for the Los Angeles Kings.
Back on Dec. 19, the Kings were humiliated in Toronto, losing 5-0 to the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. This time, they were hoping to avenge said humiliation in an effort to halt Toronto’s three-game winning streak. They did just that on Thursday with a 2-1 victory.
While there wasn’t any scoring through the first two periods, there was plenty of excitement anyway.
A few minutes after Toronto’s Nazem Kadri found himself on the receiving end of a thundering Milan Lucic hit, teammate Roman Polak committed a dirty play, shoving Tyler Toffoli from behind into the boards. Polak received a five-minute major and a game misconduct while Toffoli was thankfully — and miraculously — okay, returning to the bench for the start of the second period.
Late in the second, newly-named all-star Leo Komarov committed a dirty play himself as he knocked Drew Doughty to the ice before hitting him while he was down. Doughty then took matters into his own hands, tackling the Russian to the ice. Unfortunately for the former Norris nominee, his antics were all the referees saw as he, and not Komarov, was penalized. The Leafs, though, did not capitalize as the score remaining 0-0 after 40 minutes.
In the third, the Kings broke through.
At the 2:53 mark of the third, new King Vincent Lecavalier fed Jake Muzzin who wristed a top-corner shot for his fifth to give Los Angeles the 1-0 lead. For Lecavalier, it was his first point in his first game with his new club. Michael Mersch had the other assist.
Then, 5:12 later, Jeff Carter, in his first game back after missing six, took a great pass from Marian Gaborik out in front, roofing his 12th over James Reimer to put Los Angeles up by a pair. The goal, Carter’s 99th in a Kings uniform, was also assisted by Tanner Pearson.
Peter Holland scored two minutes to put the Leafs on the board, taking advantage of a Trevor Lewis penalty, but that was all they could muster as Jonathan Quick stood tall late to preserve the win, which was his 23rd on the year. The win also gives the Kings 54 points, tying them for their best first-half in franchise history.
For the aforementioned Lecavalier, he had a great debut with his assist, adding to it a shot, a hit and 9:26 of total ice time. Luke Schenn also had a respectable debut for his new club as he recorded two shots, three assists and 15:59 of total ice time.
With Arizona‘s win, the Kings do not extend their division lead but do maintain a 10-point cushion. The Kings now enter the weekend where they look to close out the first-half of the season on a high note as they host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.