Nazem Kadri, John Tavares lead Toronto’s 5-1 rout of Kings
And when the Leafs hit the Staples Center ice in full flight, the Kings were caught a bit flat-footed.
Morgan Rielly and Andreas Johnsson also scored in the Leafs’ fourth win in five games overall and their seventh win in eight road games this season. Frederik Andersen made 22 saves as Toronto’s burgeoning powerhouse swept its two-game season series with NHL-worst Los Angeles by a combined 9-2.
“We were moving our feet from the start,” said Toronto’s Mitch Marner, who had two assists despite needing a few stitches after Alex Iafallo’s stick hit him in the mouth in the second period. “We drew penalties with our speed. That’s something we haven’t done (much) this year. Our whole team came out ready to play, and we made it hard on their (defense).”
Toronto opened a three-game California road swing with another dominant performance, leading 2-0 just 6:12 in and getting 11 shots on net before Los Angeles got its first. The Maple Leafs scored three power-play goals and continued their impressive start to the season despite the continued absence of holdout William Nylander and star Auston Matthews, who missed his seventh straight game with a shoulder injury.
Kadri said the Leafs dominated “by being fast. I think that’s the identity of our team, and we wanted to use it to our advantage.”
Tavares scored a goal in his third consecutive game, connecting on the power play in the first period for his 11th goal of the season. The star forward already has 22 points in 18 games during his debut season with his hometown team.
“(Tavares) has been great,” said Rielly, who leads all NHL defensemen with 23 points after getting a goal and an assist. “We’re 18 games in, and he’s been outstanding. He’s been a leader. He’s been a 200-foot player. He’s been putting the puck in the net.”
Adrian Kempe scored for the Kings, who have lost three straight while scoring just two combined goals since winning their debut under interim coach Willie Desjardins last week. The NHL’s lowest-scoring team went 3-4-0 on a seven-game homestand.
“We’ve got to pull our stuff together here quickly and win some games,” Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar said. “We’ve been talking for a while now. If we don’t get our minds to it and actually get it done on the ice, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Johnsson’s goal early in the second period put Toronto up 4-1 and chased Peter Budaj, who stopped 15 shots. He was replaced by Cal Petersen, who stopped 15 shots in his NHL debut.
“I was a little surprised” to get put in the game, Petersen said. “I didn’t hear the coach right away. It was an exciting moment, and I got to face a shot right away, which helped. I was just trying not to make it bigger than it is.”
But even LA’s normally sturdy penalty-killing units struggled against Toronto, giving up multiple power-play goals for only the second time this season.
Kempe ended his 12-game goalless streak with a first-period deflection, but Rielly put Toronto up 3-1 early in the second after two Leafs converged on Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and forced a turnover.
Johnsson then scored after four Kings stood and watched while Travis Dermott skated the puck from the point to the net for a pass.
Kadri connected again late in the second period for his fourth goal in four games and his seventh in nine games.
NOTES: Dermott scored his first point since Toronto’s season opener. … Kings D Dion Phaneuf took the shot that Kempe deflected for a goal, allowing the former Toronto defenseman to score his first point in 17 games this season. … Kempe scored just his second goal in his last 50 games. … The 24-year-old Petersen, who once started 90 consecutive games for Notre Dame, is the 71st goalie in Kings franchise history and the 13th to make his first appearance for the club in relief.
Maple Leafs: At San Jose on Thursday.
Kings: At Chicago on Friday.