Maple Leafs blank Kings in shootout to pull out victory
The Toronto Maple Leafs are rolling, and coach Randy Carlyle thinks they can play even better.
James Reimer helped the Maple Leafs to a 4-3 shootout win over Los Angeles on Sunday, shutting out the Kings in the tiebreaker.
"We think this group's got more to give," Carlyle said. "We think we still have some areas we definitely need to clean up and work on. And we're going to continue to be a work in progress, I think as every team is."
Joffrey Lupul scored the lone goal for Toronto in the shootout. Tyler Bozak was denied by Jonathan Quick, and Mike Santorelli missed.
Reimer turned away Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown before Anze Kopitar missed for Los Angeles.
The Kings rallied from a 2-0 deficit and led 3-2 in the third before the Leafs forced the overtime.
Toronto has won five straight and is 9-1-1 since a 9-2 loss to visiting Nashville on Nov. 18. The Leafs (18-9-3) also improved to 13-0 when scoring the first goal.
"We'd like to keep this snowball rolling in our direction and not allow it to go in any other direction," Carlyle said.
The Kings outshot the Leafs 33-30 in regulation.
Santorelli, Cody Franson and James van Riemsdyk scored for Toronto before a crowd of 19,219 on a rare 5 p.m. local time Sunday start.
Justin Williams, Dwight King and Gaborik scored for the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings. Quick finished with 28 saves.
The second period has belonged to Toronto this season with a league-high 41 goals. But Los Angeles jumped on the Maple Leafs for two goals in four minutes, tying it at 2.
Williams trimmed Toronto's lead to 2-1 with his eighth goal at 16:02. He beat Jake Gardiner on a rush, helped somewhat by a lucky bounce, and swept the puck in past Reimer.
King then tied it at 19:46, twisting Cody Franson inside out before sending the puck past Reimer, who thought he had it.
Toronto was outshot 11-6 in the second period.
The Kings went in front 1:02 into the third when Gaborik, taking a slick pass from Williams, beat Reimer on the second try after the goalie stopped the first shot. It was Gaborik's fifth of the season.
The Leafs answered on the power play, with van Riemsdyk redirecting a Franson pass past Quick at 6:49 for his 13th goal.
"They're a good team," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "I think maybe we could have deserved a little bit better if we had got off to a better start. But we didn't and that's why we lost."
The Kings (15-10-6), who wrap up a five-game road trip in St. Louis on Tuesday, have lost four of their past five and are 4-4-2 in their last 10.
"We need to play desperate," Doughty said, "because we're losing points and we're slowly getting out of the playoff spots. So we definitely need to start paying attention to the standings and win more games."
Former Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier got the night off after helping the Leafs to a 4-1 win over visiting Detroit on Saturday. It was Reimer's second start in 11 games, a stretch that included a stellar 41-save performance in a road win over the Wings on Wednesday.
Santorelli, celebrating his 29th birthday, opened the scoring at 14:00 of the first when he beat Quick high stick-side for his sixth of the season.
Trevor Lewis had a prime scoring opportunity for the Kings late in the period when, with Reimer face down, he hit the bottom of the goalpost and the puck bounced under the goalie.
Franson made it 2-0 with 30 seconds left in the first, floating a shot through traffic from the blue line for his fifth of the season.
NOTES: The Leafs and Kings meet again on Jan. 12 at Staples Center.