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Maple Leafs, Kings meet for first time since trade

by Mike Battaglino

KINGS (20-7-4) at MAPLE LEAFS (16-12-3)


Last 10: Los Angeles 6-1-3; Toronto 3-5-2

Season series: This is the first of two games. The Los Angeles Kings won at the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2 in a shootout, on Dec. 19, 2011. The Kings have not lost in Toronto since Nov. 12, 2002.

Big story: Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier will start against the team that traded him June 23. Rookie goalie Martin Jones was first off the ice at the Kings morning skate Wednesday and likely will start.

"Probably a lot of excitement, maybe nervous a little bit," Bernier told the Maple Leafs website Tuesday. "And after the first shot, probably it will go away. But it definitely will be a first for me, to get traded and play against my old team. It's going to be fun."

Bernier is 9-8-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .929 save percentage splitting time with James Reimer (7-4-1; 2.63; .932).

"Obviously, everyone wants to play every game, but with the situation right now, it's pretty good," Bernier said. "It's not like we're waiting three weeks to get in. We know we're going to play at least one game a week, which keeps your head in the game."

Ben Scrivens (7-2-4; 1.56; .943), who was sent from Toronto to L.A. in the June trade, played 10 straight games for the Kings after Jonathan Quick was injured Nov. 12, but Jones has played the past three, with two straight shutouts, including a 6-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

"They're both kids, and they're both trying to buy us some time until Jonathan Quick comes back, and whichever one plays best gets to play," Kings coach Darryl Sutter told LA Kings Insider.

Team Scope:

Kings: Los Angeles has allowed two goals or fewer in a team-record 16 straight games, and has not allowed a first-period goal in any of those. The Kings are 11-1-4 in that stretch.

Scrivens missed a start and has not gotten back into the net.

"Basically, we were going to rotate 'em the last few games, but Ben wasn't ready to play in the start he was supposed to have," Sutter said.

The Kings have killed off 57 of the past 61 penalties, 50 of 53, and 24 of 25. They scored their first power-play goal in 33 chances Tuesday.

"It's certainly an important part of playing in the NHL, special teams," forward Justin Williams told FOX Sports West. "When you go through a stretch like we've gone through ... it wears on you a little bit. ... Hopefully we can continue [on the power play] tomorrow."

This game is the second of a four-games-in-six-days road trip.

"I like it when you're on the road and you can just bang out games back-to-back," Williams said. "It makes it go by a little bit quicker. I know we have a couple guys on our team who certainly want to win in Toronto. We'll certainly be ready for them."

Maple Leafs: Toronto will be without captain Dion Phaneuf after the defenseman on Tuesday was suspended for two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller in a game Sunday.

"Again, it's another challenge," coach Randy Carlyle said. "But the challenges are bountiful as we go forward into the season," he added with a laugh.

"But again, somebody else now gets an opportunity to fill those minutes, and some other people get a chance to play the power play and the penalty killing and to chew the 23-28 minutes that Dion plays night in, night out. That's the way we have to approach it and that's the way we brought it to our players, it's seize this as an opportunity."

Phaneuf leads the Maple Leafs in time on ice at 24:13, three minutes more than any teammate.

"The reality is we have to have somebody, or a group, share in the responsibility," Carlyle said. "I don't think, at this point, maybe we can look at one player or two players or three players. I think the level of our defense play has to go up. Now we're taxing it to a point where we're going to have to ask more of players that traditionally don't play those minutes. They play part of those minutes, but they're going to play the brunt of those minutes. ... Honestly, I believe that there are people capable of doing it, and our window to view that will be tomorrow night against the L.A. Kings."

One of them will be Jake Gardiner, whose ice time was increasing before Phaneuf was suspended. Gardiner played more than 25:00 in three of the past five games.

"We think that he's calmed down in his play from a turnover standpoint and trying to do too much high-risk, high-reward," Carlyle said.

Who's hot: Jones is 3-0-0 with an 0.65 GAA and .973 save percentage. Forward Tyler Toffoli has four goals in his past four games. Forward Jarret Stoll has a point in four straight. … Gardiner has a point in three straight. Forward Jay McClement scored Sunday, his first goal in 30 games.

Injury report: Kings defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) was activated from injured reserve Tuesday but did not play. Center Trevor Lewis (lower body) is "still a little ways away," Sutter said. Quick (groin) is targeting Thursday to test himself on the ice. … Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul (groin) will play for the first time since Nov. 25 (seven games). Forwards Tyler Bozak (oblique), Dave Bolland (ankle) and Colton Orr (elbow) are out.

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