All tricks, no treats as Maple Leafs drop second consecutive game 4-1 to Kings
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Joseph Zita1 month ago
There were just two games on the NHL schedule last night, and the Toronto Maple Leafs were one of the four teams in action as they hosted the Los Angeles Kings for a Halloween night tilt after a lengthy five-game road trip. After going 3-1-1 on the road, the Maple Leafs returned home to try and continue that winning recipe they’ve had to begin the 2023-24 season. However, they were going up against a Kings team that is among the best in the league when it comes to offence and although their goalies haven’t been that great, they don’t give up a lot of shots, so it was going to be a compelling game to watch.
The game started a little slow, with both teams playing it safe and not generating much offensively. The Kings held the advantage in shots just 1-0 through the first five minutes before Kevin Fiala took the game’s first penalty to put Toronto on the early man advantage. The Leafs struggled to not only generate offence on the power play but to get in the offensive zone and set up. The Kings killed off the penalty with ease, and they opened the scoring soon after as defenceman Andreas Englund scored his first NHL goal off Mark Giordano’s stick. Worth mentioning that Englund was drafted nine years ago and hadn’t scored a single goal in 88 career games up until that point. Because, of course.
The Kings didn’t stop there. The Leafs’ fourth line iced the puck and then lost a defensive zone face-off, leaving that unit on the ice. Noah Gregor then broke his stick, Trevor Moore broke Timothy Liljegren’s ankles, and Ryan Reaves had no idea what to do as Phillip Danault potted home a goal off a nifty pass from Moore to put his team up 2-0.
Toronto didn’t necessarily have a bad first period, but they didn’t generate a ton of offence, and that was almost a given since it’s their first home game after a lengthy road trip, and the Kings don’t give up a lot of shots. They didn’t give up a lot either, but after a couple of players falling over and a lucky bounce off Giordano’s stick opened the scoring, followed by Noah Gregor breaking his stick, and his line playing short-handed benefited Los Angeles.
Toronto came out for the second period much faster and more alive than the first. They registered four shots to begin the frame and almost scored, but Cam Talbot was there to deny them. Kevin Fiala took a minor penalty, just like the first period, to put Toronto on the man advantage. However, they couldn’t generate much on the power play and wasted another opportunity to try to get on the scoreboard. It was the same story midway through the period when Toronto went on the power play for the third time. Passing too much and not shooting the puck a ton on the net.
After that, it was a pretty dull period, if I’m being honest. Los Angeles scored to make it 3-0, and Toronto, just like the entire night, struggled to generate anything dangerous in the Kings’ zone and heard boos rain down from the crowd at Scotiabank Arena. They headed into the second intermission down 3-0, yet outshooting them 18-17. The shot counter is a little misleading, though. It felt like their chances weren’t all that great through 40 minutes.
Down by three goals heading into the final period and not looking all that great, the Leafs needed a miraculous third-period comeback to extend their point streak to five games and get back in the win column over the Kings. It hadn’t been a pretty game for Toronto up to this point of the game, and it’s been the same story in the third period. However, a too-many-men penalty from the Kings put Toronto on the power play for the fourth time, and they made no mistake this time as John Tavares ripped home his fifth of the season to get his team within two goals.
With the momentum slowly turning into Toronto’s favour after they got on the board with Tavares’ goal, John Klingberg hands them a scoring opportunity, and the Kings make no mistake. Klingberg can’t receive the pass from his partner along the boards, and he loses his man going to the net as Kopitar sets up Kempe for their fourth goal of the night.
That’s all she wrote for this one, as Toronto lost 4-1 and dropped their record to 5-3-1 to begin the season.
Who stood out:
I don’t know if anyone looked good in this one, and I’m being serious. They managed 31 shots on net, but if you watched the game, they didn’t generate a lot of grade-A chances. It was mainly throwing pucks on the net, hoping they would score a goal. And although that could work at times, it’s not a reliable business plan.
I guess one of the only good things to come out of this game was Nylander extending his point streak to begin the season with an apparent assist on Tavares’ goal. One of the assists wasn’t initially given to Nylander, but as the game progressed, they gave it to him, and he now holds the franchise’s record for the longest point streak to begin a season (nine games).
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Sportsnet Thursday night on the road against the Boston Bruins. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT.
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