Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rookie goalie stones Leafs

TORONTO—Four games, four wins, two shutouts, and just three goals given up.
Martin Jones’ entry into the NHL just keeps getting better and better.

The 23-year-old from North Vancouver stopped 38 shots, and Jeff Carter and Kyle Clifford scored third-period goals, as the L.A. Kings beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 for their fifth-straight win last night.
Jones, who grew up a Canucks’ fan, now has beaten two “Original Six” teams in Montreal and Toronto, in addition to wins over the N.Y. Islanders and Anaheim.
“I try not to think about that too much,” Jones replied when asked about his impressive run.
“I just make sure I’m ready when I am called upon, just try to give these guys a chance to win.
“We’ve got a great team here,” he added. “It’s not like I’m getting called upon to steal games here, it’s give these guys a chance to win—a couple of big saves here and there.”
It was athlete-speak worthy of a veteran. But Jones, who stopped 18 shots in the third, flashed a big grin when asked if he was having fun.
“Yeah, I’m trying to enjoy it, as well,” said the former Calgary Hitman who has spent the last three seasons with the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester, N.H.
Jones, whose hot hand has eclipsed ex-Leaf Ben Scrivens in the absence of injured No. 1 Jonathan Quick, now boasts a .974 save percentage and 0.74 GAA.
He’s stopped 111 of 114 shots.
Carter beat former teammate Jonathan Bernier with a wrist shot between the legs on a 2-on-1 at 9:40 for his eighth of the year.
Defenceman Paul Ranger failed to keep the puck in the L.A. end, creating the odd-man rush.
“In a 1-1 hockey game with 10 minutes left, it’s an ill-advised pinch,” he noted.
Clifford added an insurance goal with 1:59 to go.
Drew Doughty also scored for L.A. (21-7-4) before 19,375 at the Air Canada Centre.
Cody Franson scored for Toronto (16-13-3), which deserved better on the night.
“By far it was our best effort in the last couple of months,” said Carlyle. “But no reward for it.
“And we have to use it as a starting point.”
The Leafs were without captain and top defenceman Dion Phaneuf, serving the first half of a two-game suspension for a weekend hit on Boston’s Kevan Miller.
But winger Joffrey Lupul returned after a seven-game absence due to a groin tear.
Things don’t get any easier for the Leafs, with away games at St. Louis and Pittsburgh sandwiched around a visit Saturday by Stanley Cup champion Chicago.
The Kings arrived riding a season-high four-game winning streak—hot on the heels of a 6-0 win in Montreal—and were 11-1-4 in their last 16 games.
The Leafs, meanwhile, had just two regulation wins in their last 17 starts (a stretch during which they went 6-8-3).
“It’s like pushing that snowball,” sighed Carlyle. “It seems every time you lose, it gets bigger.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, Anaheim nipped Minnesota 2-1 and Chicago dumped Philadelphia 7-2.

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