Leafs rally to beat Kings
LOS ANGELES—The L.A. Kings might be the NHL’s best defensive team, and they hadn’t blown a two-goal lead in a loss in nearly a full calendar year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs broke down that defence and pulled out an impressive road victory despite nearly running out of goalies along the way.
James Reimer made 31 saves in the final two periods after replacing the injured Jonathan Bernier for the Leafs, who now have won four of five.
Captain Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson also scored as Toronto beat both southern California NHL clubs in a four-day span—albeit with a blowout loss at the “Shark Tank” sandwiched in between.
“We need every point that we can possibly get,” stressed Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle.
“We’re in desperation mode as every team is, and we just found a way to gut it out,” he noted.
“We gave up a two-goal lead and we found a way to get a big goal.”
After the Leafs erased that early 2-0 deficit, Raymond put them ahead with 14:54 to play.
Anze Kopitar was stopped by Reimer on a golden scoring chance, then Raymond alertly countered on a 2-on-1 rush with James van Riemsdyk for Raymond’s 19th goal.
Bernier gave up two goals in the first period of his first game back in L.A. against the team that traded him last summer, but then sat out the final two periods with a lower-body injury.
Reimer filled in admirably—making a number of stunning saves.
“I wouldn’t blow it up too big,” Reimer said. “I just came in and did my job.
“Every time you go in is an opportunity.”
Reimer, who gave up six goals in San Jose, also got up quite slowly in the second period after getting an accidental blow to the head from Jarret Stoll when the goalie dove to stop a puck.
Reimer eventually shook it off but said he “got [his] bell rung.”
“I was sitting beside Bernier when that happened,” said Nazem Kadri, who had two assists.
“I told him to take off his pads. I might have to throw them on.”
Marian Gaborik had an early goal and an assist in his home debut with the Kings, who fell just short of matching the longest winning streak in franchise history.
Kopitar had a power-play goal while Jonathan Quick stopped 26 shots in his first loss since Feb. 3.
After losing nine of 10 in a skid stretching into early February, the Kings won their final game before the Olympic break and hadn’t lost since.
This loss prevented the Kings from equaling their record nine-game streak in 2010.
“It’s a stinger every time you lose after a pretty strong road trip,” Kopitar noted.
“We didn’t want to start off a homestand with a loss.
“I don’t know how they execute their system, but it seemed like they were skating and playing a tight-checking game,” he added.
“But it was just a case of our game tonight not getting it done.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, St. Louis beat Edmonton 6-2, Minnesota shaded the N.Y. Rangers 2-1, Boston nipped Phoenix 2-1, Carolina doubled Buffalo 4-2, San Jose edged Columbus 4-3 (SO), and Tampa Bay topped Florida 5-4.