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Maple Leafs trying to stop Kings' 8-game streak

by John Kreiser

MAPLE LEAFS (35-24-8) at KINGS (38-22-6)


Last 10: Toronto 5-3-2; Los Angeles 8-2-0

Season series: The Toronto Maple Leafs are making their first visit to Staples Center since Jan. 10, 2011, which was the last time they beat the Los Angeles Kings. L.A. won the first game this season, 3-1 at Air Canada Centre on Dec. 11.

Big story: Toronto ends a three-game swing through California facing a herculean task; the Maple Leafs are trying to slow down a Kings team that has won eight in a row, including a three-game sweep of a trip through Canada. Los Angeles begins a five-game homestand.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs: Toronto has split its first two games in California because of its goaltending. Jonathan Bernier stopped 43 shots Monday in a 3-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks. The Maple Leafs have been outshot 92-44 and are coming off a 6-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. The Sharks outshot them 48-21, out-attempted them 90-35, and won 48 of 76 faceoffs. James Reimer was solid in net and allowed six goals.

Captain Dion Phaneuf was eager to turn the page.

"You have to flush it," he said afterward. "There's no point pouting about it. We're going into a building of a team that is playing very good right now."

Kings: Los Angeles won its final game before the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics and has been almost flawless since then, winning its first seven post-Olympic games allowing 11 goals. Five games have come on the road; Los Angeles plays eight of its next 11 at Staples Center.

Coach Darryl Sutter said having several key players take part in the Olympics was a positive. The Kings' Olympians included center Anze Kopitar, forwards Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown, defenseman Drew Doughty and goaltender Jonathan Quick.

"I think all our guys came back … really sharp," Sutter told the media Wednesday. "[Kopitar] for sure; he was really proud of going and really proud of how he played and proud of his country [Slovenia]. It doesn't matter with those kids that went. It doesn't matter if they all medaled or not. If you get to do that is what's most important. As much as they represented their country, they represented us.

"Those guys all went over that were way more winning-experienced than most of the players that went because of what they did the last two years. They always take that with them. It's always good to see that."

Who's hot: Bernier has won his past three games allowing six goals on 112 shots, a save percentage of .946. … Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is 5-0-0 since returning from the Olympics; he's allowed five goals on 113 shots, a .956 save percentage. Kopitar has four goals and eight assists in his past nine games.

Injury report: Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson (illness) missed the game against the Sharks and stayed behind when the team flew to Los Angeles. Center Dave Bolland (ankle) is recovering from the injury that has kept him out more than four months. … The Kings report no injuries.

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