Martin Jones gets 7th career shutout as Kings top Maple Leafs
When the Los Angeles Kings’ current and former backup goalies faced off in a defense-dominated game, Martin Jones and Jonathan Bernier matched each other for 58 consecutive scoreless minutes.
The Kings’ goals in the first and final minutes added up to a skid-snapping shutout.
Jones made 19 saves in his seventh career shutout, and Anze Kopitar scored 37 seconds into the Kings’ 2-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday night.
Marian Gaborik got an empty-net goal to seal Jones’ third shutout in his last four starts for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who ended their three-game losing streak with just their second victory in seven games.
"We wanted to make sure we had a better start and carried it through the game," said Jones, who hadn’t started since yielding six goals to Montreal on Dec. 12. "We haven’t been playing our best hockey lately."
Jones had played just once in relief of Jonathan Quick in the Kings’ past 12 games. Although he didn’t exactly face an offensive onslaught by the Leafs, Jones made several big saves in the third period and narrowly edged Bernier, the goalie who he replaced as Quick’s backup last season.
Kopitar had a goal and an assist, and he returned to the game after Dion Phaneuf’s shot hit him in the face in the third period. Jeff Carter added two assists for Los Angeles.
"We were mostly just trying to pin the puck down and keep it in their zone," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who had an assist while playing 28 1/2 minutes. "I think we still had some lapses where we let them back in, but it was a good start."
Bernier stopped 18 shots in the Maple Leafs’ third game under interim coach Peter Horachek, who will finish out the season after replacing the fired Randy Carlyle six days earlier.
Toronto opened a tough four-game West Coast road trip with its ninth loss in 12 games, but took comfort in limiting its opponent to 20 shots for the second straight game — a rarity earlier this season.
"We’ll take that loss, because I thought we deserved better," Bernier said. "We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves, even though we lost. … We have to look at the positives, and our game lately has been much better. Most of the West teams are playing really good defensively, and you’ve got to match that."
The Leafs have lost seven of nine on the road, while the Kings picked up their first victory in four games on their seven-game homestand, their longest of the season.
The Kings won without rookie Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, who are tied for second on the roster with 12 goals apiece. Pearson is out indefinitely after breaking his leg in Los Angeles’ last game, and Toffoli missed his second straight game with mononucleosis.
Kopitar wired a top-shelf shot past Bernier’s head in the opening minute, but the puck hit the in-net camera and came out so quickly that nobody except Kopitar was sure he scored. The teams played another minute before the goal was confirmed by video review during the first stoppage.
Scoring chances were scarce in the first two periods, with both teams adeptly moving the puck out of their zone. Horachek has emphasized defensive responsibility and limiting shots in his first week in charge.
"We can’t really play much better on the road," center Nazem Kadri said. "They got a fortunate bounce on their first shift, but I think we might have outplayed them. In the second period, we really got our legs going, played down low, possessed the puck and put pucks to the net."
NOTES: Toronto C Leo Komarov went to the dressing room early in the second period after a hit from Kings D Matt Greene left him holding his right arm. He didn’t return, although Horachek said he could have played. … Bernier was on the Kings’ first Stanley Cup championship team in 2012, although he never played in the postseason while Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy. Los Angeles, which drafted Bernier 11th overall in 2006, traded him to Toronto in June 2013. … Kings C Nick Shore didn’t make his NHL debut after getting recalled from the AHL earlier in the day.