Martin Jones posts 30th career shutout, Maple Leafs begin California trip with 3-0 win over Kings

Photo credit:Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
6 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs closed out 2023 with a third straight loss against the Carolina Hurricanes to drop their record to 1-4-1 in their last six. Last night, they opened up 2024 with a three-game road trip in California, starting with one of the league’s best teams, the Los Angeles Kings.

First period:

Despite travelling across the continent to begin a three-game road trip, the Toronto Maple Leafs started last night’s game on time against one of the best teams in the NHL. Although Los Angeles is one of the better defensive teams in the league, Toronto got out to a pretty sizeable shot advantage through the first six minutes of the game, outshooting the Kings 7-1, including a couple of great looks in front of the net from the NHL’s second star of the month in December, Auston Matthews.
Los Angeles slowly found their feet and generated some chances on Martin Jones, but none were that dangerous for the Maple Leafs netminder. Although neither team found the back of the net in the first period, it was a relatively even period between the two clubs, but Toronto held the shot attempt advantage (27-15) and shot advantage (11-6) after 20 minutes of play.
According to Naturalstattrick.com, both teams combined for an uneventful 1.22 x GF (0.60 TOR and 0.62 LA) as they headed into the first intermission.

Second period:

After a pretty solid showing in the first period, Toronto came out for the second period with the same urgency, getting pucks on the net and playing hard. They generated a couple of looks instantly, and it helped them just over five minutes into the second period as William Nylander scored his 18th of the season to give Toronto the 1-0 lead. After his 13-game point streak ended against Carolina, Nylander put the puck past Talbot to start another one.
Whether it was the start to the period that carried the momentum or the Nylander goal, the Maple Leafs continued to apply the pressure against the Kings in their arena. A push from the top line drew a power play as Pierre-Luc Dubois took Auston Matthews down, and it attracted a crowd in the corner as Matthews’ teammates came to his defence.
Despite not scoring on their second man advantage of the night, Toronto spent a lot of time in the offensive zone, building more momentum for them. After the penalty expired, Toronto had an offensive zone face-off, and although they lost the draw, they forced a turnover and gained possession. Tyler Bertuzzi then fed Calle Jarnkrok in front of the net, and the second-year Leaf potted home his ninth of the season. That assist gave Bertuzzi two on the night.
Toronto continued to play on the Kings’ end of the ice for the bulk of the period, limiting the home club to few chances. However, Toronto’s momentum ended when Tyler Bertuzzi took a neutral zone tripping penalty, putting the Los Angeles Kings on their second power play of the night with four minutes to go in the second period. Before they went on the power play, Los Angeles had 11 shots in 36 minutes. They ended up recording six shots on that man advantage, increasing their total to 17, and the Kings built a little momentum as the period ended, but Toronto did a solid job at keeping the puck out of their net.
The Maple Leafs headed into the second intermission up 2-0 and outshooting the Kings 22-18.

Third period:

With the Maple Leafs up 2-0, as the road team heading into the third period, they needed to play a structured and mistake-free final 20 minutes to walk out of Los Angeles with two points.
It was a very low-event first five minutes for both teams, as countless whistles dragged the period on. But as the period aged, chances became present, especially for the Kings, who were expected to make a third-period push down 2-0. Martin Jones and the rest of his team continued to do a solid job at defending, limiting Los Angeles offensively. Roughly nine minutes into the final period, Simon Benoit pinched to lay a hit on a Kings player. Andreas Englund didn’t like that and encountered the Maple Leafs defenseman. The two dropped the gloves for a quick fight, and the edge went to Englund, but props to Benoit for his second fight in four games and being a physical presence in last night’s game.
The Kings continued to push hard to get on the board and somehow get the tying goal against Toronto, but Martin Jones did a fantastic job at shutting the door on his former team. The ice was tilted in the home team’s favour in the final period, as Los Angeles outshot Toronto 13-7, but the road team shut the door. William Nylander would then pot home the empty-netter for his second of the night and 19th of the season as the Maple Leafs picked up an impressive 3-0 win on the road.

Who stood out:

Martin. Jones. What a game for the former King last night, as the 33-year-old posted a 31-save shutout for his second of the season and 30th of his career to improve his record with Toronto to 5-3-0. He wasn’t busy through the first 35 minutes of the game, but the late power play in the second period for the Kings gave them some momentum heading into the final period. But Jones stuck with it and played great.
Tyler Bertuzzi, who picked up two more assists in the win last night, played an excellent game. The winger struggled out of the gate with Toronto, but the effort has been evident for a while now, and he’s being rewarded for it. With two more assists, Bertuzzi has seven points in his last seven games, improving his season totals to 16 points in 35 games. However, it’s not just finding his way on the scoresheet. He was a menace on the forecheck, hunting pucks, and even got in some post-whistle scrums with his teammates.
With two more goals, William Nylander inches closer to 20 goals on the season, and he became the first Maple Leaf and seventh player in the NHL to reach the 50-point mark on the season. He currently sits fifth in league scoring (50 points), tied with David Pastrnak and JT Miller.
Lastly, although the power play went 0-for-4 last night, Toronto’s penalty kill went 3-for-3 and was quite impressive with the amount of blocked shots they had (26).
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game tonight as they close out their back-to-back against the Anaheim Ducks. Puck drop is scheduled for 9:00 pm ET/6:00 pm PT.

Check out these posts...