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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Kings - 03/02/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings Thursday at Staples Center:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Video: TOR@LAK: Bozak deflects Marner's dish in off skate

1. Bozak scores quickly to give Leafs game's first lead. The Leafs were aiming to rebound from a 3-1 loss to San Jose Tuesday, and started out the game on the right foot when centre Tyler Bozak netted his 15th goal of the year at the 2:04 mark of the opening period to put Toronto ahead 1-0.

Bozak's regular linemates - wingers Mitch Marner and James van Riemsdyk - registered assists on the goal. And after head coach Mike Babcock said, in the wake of Tuesday's defeat, he was looking for a better showing from his group of veteran players, Bozak's marker was exactly what Leafs Nation was looking for.

 

Video: TOR@LAK: Zaitsev beats Quick through traffic in front

2. Zaitsev increases Toronto's advantage, and Boyle records first point as a Leaf. Toronto took their one-goal lead into the first intermission despite the Kings making a major counter-push after Bozak's goal, and the visitors needed another strong showing from goalie Frederik Andersen to stay ahead heading into the middle frame. However, the Leafs started the second period strongly - outshooting Los Angeles 7-4 through the first 12 minutes of the period - and increased their goal total at the 7:20 mark when defenceman Nikita Zaitsev scored his third goal.

Zaitsev's shot beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, but the scoring play began with an offensive zone faceoff win from centre Brian Boyle, who was appearing in his second game as a Leaf after being acquired from Tampa Bay Monday. Boyle recorded his first point in a Toronto uniform on the sequence, putting up his 10th assist of the season and his 23rd point in his 56th NHL game this year. It was a good indication of thddde ways the 32-year-old can contribute, and it gave the Buds some breathing room on the scoreboard with one period of regulation time left to play.

3. Leafs penalties eventually come to hurt them as Kings make early third-period run. The Buds finished the second period dealing with another push from the Kings, who wound up outshooting them 10-9 in the frame and 17-16 through the first 40 minutes. L.A. also forced Toronto into taking their third minor penalty of the night with 28 seconds left in the second, and when the third period began, centre Anze Kopitar fired a shot that ricocheted off Zaitsev's visor and past Andersen for the Kings' first goal of the night at the 27-second mark.

Los Angeles then followed their power play goal with the game-tying marker at 1:57 of the third via winger Tanner Pearson's 22nd goal of the season. The Kings are just as desperate for standings points as the Leafs are as both teams make a push for a playoff berth, and the Leafs' inability to stay out of the penalty box was the starting point for an L.A. comeback.

 

Video: TOR@LAK: Andersen denies Kings' power-play chances

4. Andersen keeps Buds in it in third, and early in OT. Andersen turned aside 30 of 32 Kings shots to send the game to overtime, and he prevented L.A. from winning early on in the extra period with a terrific stop on centre Tyler Toffoli. The Leafs, meanwhile, had a number of excellent chances to win it, but both Bozak and blueliner Jake Gardiner missed out on their opportunities, and the contest extended to a shootout. 

5. Shootout woes don't stop as Kopitar bangs home game-winner. The Leafs had a 1-7 record in shootouts prior to Thursday's game, and this would've been an opportune time to move that statistic in a better direction. Unfortunately, none of Toronto's three shooters (Auston Matthews, Marner and William Nylander) were able to beat Quick, and although Andersen prevented winger Jeff Carter and Pearson from scoring, Kopitar did put the puck in Toronto's net to give the Kings the victory.

The Leafs did salvage a point in the loss, but a mark of 1-8 in shootouts is the kind of thing that can certainly come back to hurt Toronto at the end of the season in their race for a post-season slot. It's not all Andersen's fault, particularly on a night like this, when not even one of the Buds' talented young forwards were able to score. But in any case, there needs to be a change in trajectory when it comes to shootouts, or else the Leafs could be on the outside of the playoff picture after their 82nd regular-season contest has been played. 

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