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Reimer Unbeatable In Shootout

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs


TORONTO - James Reimer stopped all three shooters to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3 shootout win over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Joffrey Lupul scored the lone goal for Toronto in the shootout. Tyler Bozak and Mike Santorelli missed.

Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar all missed for Los Angeles.

Los Angeles rallied from a 2-0 deficit and led 3-2 in the third before the Leafs forced the overtime.

Toronto has won five straight and gone 9-1-1 since a 9-2 humiliation at the hands of the visiting Nashville Predators on Nov. 18. The Leafs also improved to 13-0-0 when scoring the first goal.

It was a game that took a while to reach the boil but the third period was fast-paced and entertaining. The Kings outshot the Leafs 33-30 in regulation.

Santorelli, Cody Franson and James van Riemsdyk scored for the Leafs before an Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,219 on a rare 5 p.m. local time Sunday start.

Justin Williams, Dwight King and Gaborik scored for the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.

Jonathan Quick had to be sharp in the Kings goal after Jake Muzzin was called for hooking with 5:05 remaining as he impeded Nazem Kadri from behind on a breakaway.

The second period has belonged to the Leafs this season with a league-high 41 goals. But things went south this time in the second when the Kings pulled even at 2-2 with a pair of goals in three minutes 44 seconds as the Toronto defence wobbled late in the period.

Williams cut the lead to 2-1 with his eighth goal at 16:02. The King winger beat Jake Gardiner on a rush, helped somewhat by a lucky bounce, and swept the puck in past Reimer. King then tied it up at 19:46, twisting Cody Franson inside out en route to the goal from the corner before neatly depositing the puck past Reimer, who thought he had it.

Toronto, which led 2-0 after 20 minutes, was outshot 11-6 in the second period.

The Kings pulled ahead 1:02 into the third when Gaborik, taking a slick pass from Williams, beat Reimer on the second try after the goalie stopped the first shot. It was Gaborik's fifth of the season.

The Leafs answered on the power play with van Riemsdyk redirecting a Franson pass past Quick at 6:49 for his 13th goal, making it 3-3.

Former Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier got the night off after helping the Leafs to a 4-1 win over visiting Detroit on Saturday. It was Reimer's second start in 11 games, a stretch that included a stellar 41-save performance in a road win over the Wings on Wednesday.

The first goal seemed crucial with Toronto (12-0-0 coming in) and Los Angeles (12-0-3) imperious when scoring first.

Quick made a terrific save on Tyler Bozak in close on an early Leafs power play. The Leafs first-line centre missed another glorious chance later in the period, shooting high. But it was the second line of Kadri, Santorelli and Daniel Winnik that made the difference.

Santorelli, celebrating his 29th birthday, opened the scoring at 14:00 of the first when he came from behind the net, after taking a deft pass from Winnik, and beat Quick high stick-side for his sixth of the season.

Trevor Lewis had a glorious chance for the Kings late in the period when, with Reimer face down, he hit the bottom of the goalpost and the puck bounced under the goalie.

Franson made it 2-0 with 30 seconds left in the first period, floating a shot through traffic from the blue-line for his fifth goal of the season.

Toronto emerged from the period with the lead despite being outshot 11-8 and losing 16 of 20 faceoffs.

Lupul fired wide early in the second after getting a perfect feed from Kadri, who had knocked his man down behind the net.

Los Angeles had Saturday off in Toronto after back-to-back games Thursday and Friday against Ottawa (a 5-3 win) and Montreal (6-2 loss). The Kings, with one last stop after Toronto on a five game-road trip, arrived having lost three of their last four and were 4-5-1 in their last 10.

The Leafs started Sunday as the league's highest-scoring team, averaging 3.38 goals per game. They were 14-0-0 when scoring at least four goals and 16-2-2 when scoring at least three. L.A. ranked third in goals-against, averaging 2.20 a game, and No. 1 in total team hits (928).

NOTES: The game was the first of the season between the Leafs and Kings, who split the 2013-14 season 1-1. The teams meet Jan. 12 at the Staples Center ... Toronto's Dion Phaneuf and Santorelli came into the game tied for the sixth best plus/minus total in the league at plus-15.

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