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Maple Leafs top Kings in shootout for fifth straight win

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- Mike Santorelli celebrated his 29th birthday with a goal and an assist, helping the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 in a shootout at Air Canada Centre on Sunday.

Forward Joffrey Lupul scored the only goal of the shootout and goalie James Reimer made 33 saves through overtime for the Maple Leafs (18-9-3), who won their fifth game in a row.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick made 28 saves for the Kings (15-10-6), who have lost four of their past five games.

Santorelli, who signed with the Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent last summer, has six goals and 22 points in 30 games.

"It was a good birthday getting the two points for sure," Santorelli said.

Reimer had another strong outing Sunday after making 41 saves in a 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. He said the win was a total team effort.

"I thought we played a great game," Reimer said. "I thought this was one of our better weekends as a team. We've got a lot of character in the room and we have a huge desire to win. We could have buckled after we allowed an early goal in the third period, but we stuck with it."

Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the first period with goals from Santorelli and defenseman Cody Franson. Santorelli beat Quick on a wraparound and a high shot to the short side. Franson notched his fifth goal of the season with a low shot from the right point to the far side of the net.

The Kings tied the game with two goals over 3:45 in the second period. Justin Williams had a puck hit him and as it fell to the ice, he shot it past Reimer at 16:02. Dwight King scored his third of the season with 14 seconds left in the period after a strong move to the net.

Marian Gaborik gave Los Angeles a 3-2 lead at 1:02 of the third period. He took a pass from Williams and had a shot from close range that Reimer denied. Gaborik scored off his own rebound for his fifth goal of the season.

Toronto forward James van Riemsdyk forced overtime with his 13th goal of the season at 8:49 on a tic-tac-toe play with Franson and Phil Kessel. With Toronto on the power play, Kessel saw Franson cutting in from the point and hit him with a perfect pass. Franson relayed the puck to van Riemsdyk in front of the Kings goal and he slid the puck past Quick.

On a weekend when the Maple Leafs had home victories against the Red Wings and Kings, coach Randy Carlyle said he makes a point of not getting too giddy about the Maple Leafs' success.

"I always make a point of trying to temper my enthusiasm and try to remain level-headed," Carlyle said. "Hopefully that builds confidence in our group inside because we think this group has more to give. We think we definitely have some areas that we still need to clean up and work on and we're a work in progress, as every team is."

Carlyle said the Maple Leafs have to skate and not turn the puck over to be most effective. Even though the Maple Leafs are 9-1-1 since losing 9-2 at home against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 18, Carlyle is not celebrating anything yet.

"There's always danger," Carlyle said. "Pro sports is always about danger. You are always living on the edge."

Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty felt the Kings should have been able to win after overcoming a 2-0 deficit and taking the lead early in the third period.

"It was pretty disappointing," Doughty said. "We usually close games out like that if we have the lead in the third. That's our thing, to close them out and we failed to do it tonight."

The Kings have a reputation for not being at their best in the regular season and then turning it on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Doughty said that has to change.

"We want to go out there every night and play our best hockey," Doughty said. "When we're playing desperate hockey our team is very good and when we're just going through the motions and playing games that way, we're not very good. We need to start playing desperate because we're losing points and we're slowly getting out of a playoff spot."

Toronto hosts the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday; the Kings play at the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

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