LOS ANGELES – Three unanswered goals left the Kings listless at the final horn for the first time in quite a while, as they dropped their first game since February 3 in a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have now won their last three decisions at STAPLES Center.
On an evening that had numerous franchise records on the line if a win was attained, the Kings couldn’t maintain what looked to be an early, commanding lead.
Less than two minutes into play, Marian Gaborik registered his first goal in a Kings uniform, in his first game in Los Angeles at STAPLES Center. Drew Doughty fired a shot on Jonathan Bernier, and as Gaborik drove to the net, he snuck home the rebound to give the Kings a 1-0 lead just 1:57 into the contest.
On their first power play opportunity of the night, the Kings padded their lead with Anze Kopitar’s 21st goal of the campaign. After Drew Doughty rushed the puck deep into Toronto’s zone, he used the attention he attracted to his advantage, finding Kopitar open and alone, feeding him a gorgeous pass, which Kopitar belted home on one knee to give the Kings a 2-0 lead with 3:55 to play in the first period.
Dion Phaneuf would cut the Kings lead in half in the first period’s final minutes after Jake Muzzin was called for a seriously questionable hooking penalty.
Jonathan Bernier, who was making his first visit to STAPLES Center since being traded over the summer, did not return for the second period due to a lower-body injury.
Bernier stopped eight of the Kings’ 10 first period shots.
James Reimer would replace Berner, and he was lights out in Toronto’s crease, turning away all 31 shots the Kings directed his way through the final 40 minutes of play.
Carl Gunnarson tied the game for the Maple Leafs early in the second period, beating Jonathan Quick with a surprisingly soft goal from atop the point.
For Quick, it was an uncharacteristic goal for the Kings’ netminder to surrender.
The bad for the Kings came just after they were denied from the good.
On the Kings’ final power play of the evening, Anze Kopitar came inches from giving the Kings a 3-2 lead. In the aftermath of Kopitar’s failed scoring opportunity, many of the Kings stood in shock as Toronto quickly transitioned the other way with a shorthanded opportunity.
James van Riemsdyk fed Mason Raymond a soft-touch pass on a clear-cut two-on-one rush, and Raymond whistled a one-timed slap shot past Jonathan Quick to give the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead with 15:54 left to play in regulation.
The Kings were able to maintain pressure, but couldn’t find a way to get a puck past James Reimer.
Marian Gaborik, who played at STAPLES Center in a Kings uniform for the first time tonight, had a hand in both of the Kings’ goals; scoring the first, and assisting on the second, racking up his first two points (1G, 1A) as a member of the Kings.
The Kings’ record now sits at 38-23-6, which is good for 82 points, and positions them at sixth-place in the Western Conference. The Kings lead the Phoenix Coyotes by nine points for the Pacific Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.