The Toronto Maple Leafs decided to get their 10:30pm game against the Los Angeles Kings out of the way early so they could cruise during bed-time. The boys immediately jumped to a multi-goal lead and carried it to a 5-1 win in LA.
The Buds power play finally woke up in this game. The top unit of Mitchell Marner, John Tavares, Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau and Morgan Rielly combined for three goals. Kasperi Kapanen and the second unit also looked very good during their time with the extra man, they just didn’t get a goal.
Kadri got two on the power play, meaning he has now scored against every team in the NHL. Way to go, Naz!
Going into tonight's game, Nazem Kadri had scored against every opposing NHL team except the Kings.— Platinum Seat Ghosts (@3rdPeriodSuits) November 14, 2018
With 2 tonight, he's completed the set.
So the game started pretty much exactly as you’d expect. The Leafs dominated the shots early and drew a penalty. The second PP unit had a banger of a first shift, doing everything but score. Kasperi Kapanen came really close twice.
And then the big boys stepped out. Within five seconds of the Mitch Marner unit winning the faceoff in the offensive zone, Kadri had scored a tap-in from less than a foot away from the goal line. The power play had been pretty dry for several games now, and this goal might just be a product of the Kings being superiorly bad, but it’s nice to see them heating up. Keep doing the Mitch Thing, Mitch.
The dominance didn’t stop there. Within the first four minutes of the game, the Leafs had put up a 6-0 shot margin on the board and drawn another penalty. Kapanen has looked like the lovechild of Pavel Bure and Albert Einstein so far. His wild eyes and hair, combined with his unrelenting speed and handling has terrified Dion Phaneuf and the Kings defence.
Once again, the first unit scored on the power play! Morgan Rielly grabbed a won faceoff from John Tavares and threw the puck towards the net. Tavares tipped his own shot-assist in brilliantly from the slot, extending the Leafs’ lead. This is fun!
9:10 into the period, the Kings got their first shot on Frederik Andersen. The weak shot from the middle of the slot that Freddy easily parried away brought the Kings to a much more respectable 11-1 shot disadvantage. Luckily for them, Rielly got called for tripping, despite being shoved in the net moments earlier. Phaneuf took a shot from the wing while his team was still trying to establish zone-time. The shot went very wide but Freddy caught it anyway. Beyond that shot, there really wasn’t anything to worry about on the kill.
I probably should’ve stopped talking shit. Phaneuf grabbed a Igor Ozhiganov muffin up the middle of the ice and blasted it off the stick Adrian Kempe and in. Shockingly, the shot was low and beat Freddy Andersen between his legs.
Despite the huge first half of the period, the Kings took the Rielly penalty and used it to get back even with the Leafs at even-strength. The Leafs find themselves behind in even-strength attempts (11-13), but are ahead in shots (6-5), while tied in terms of scoring chances at five. Drew Doughty and Alex Iafallo lead the Kings in terms of individual shot attempts with two, while Kapanen and Marner lead the Leafs with three apiece.
All fancy stats aside, because of the power play, the Leafs lead in shots 16-8 after the first and I assume most of you reading decided to go to sleep thinking this game was in the bag. As I write this at 12am, boy, do I hope you were right. (Spoiler alert: you were).
Mo goals, please? Oh, why not! Rielly scores off a wicked wrister from the top of the circle, beating Peter Budaj clean! Shoutout to Tavares for the heads up pass (that Morgan called for moments earlier) and Zach Hyman for going yeoman's work in the corner to win yet another 50/50 battle. This team just keeps clicking, and Rielly continues to be the recipient of all the goodness. He now has eight goals and 23 points through 17 and a bit games. Most of those points are on the power play, but that’s still crazy.
Trevor Moore must’ve really enjoyed watching this goal from the press box as two of his former Marlies teammates paired up and scored a beautiful goal. Dermott acted like he was going to shoot the puck from the point, but burst down the wing and threw a perfect saucer pass to Johnsson in front of the net. The 24-year-old rookie perfectly roofed the puck, finishing off a Calder Cup calibre goal.
As a result of the goal, Budaj got the door from Kings head coach Willie Desjardins, meaning 24-year-old rookie goalie from Waterloo, Iowa, Cal Petersen found himself in an NHL net for the first time in his career. Unfortunately for him, the Leafs didn’t let up.
Marner got sticked in the face by Iafallo, giving the Leafs a four-minute power play. Kadri would pot his second of the night during one of those penalties, this time also from in front of the net. The power play (and more specifically the first unit) is now 3/5 on the night so far. Can we play the Kings every night?
From here, the Leafs probably let up on the rookie in net a little bit. They were relatively even in shots with Petersen in net and the score remained 5-1 heading out of the second period.
Kings booed off the ice after 40 minutes, down 5-1. Leafs looking to make it 9-0-0 when leading after two.— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) November 14, 2018
The Leafs have been pretty pedestrian at even-strength tonight, but that’s mostly because they haven’t really needed to work so hard because the the power play has been so utterly dominant. In nine minutes of power play time, the Leafs have 23 shot attempts, six shots, and three goals. That stat line is a stark difference to LA’s four attempts, four shots, and zero goals in six minutes.
I feel like this game will turn into a write-off for both teams when it comes to evaluating the numbers. Neither team has been trying up to this point because they don’t really need to. This game is done.
Josh Leivo has had a great game against the slow Kings. His shot in the second was the first Cal Petersen faced and stopped, and then in the third, he drew a slashing penalty while cutting to the net on a break. His work on the power play has also been very good for a second unit guy.
Argh, this game is so boring. God bless Omar for these GIFs.
The fourth line has been getting a lot of time in the third period, and rightly so. No reason to play the stars at this point. With the extra ice, they’ve been able to show some good skills in tight. I’m shocked that Tyler Ennis hasn’t scored yet tonight. He’s a couple great chances, including one post I think.
Some more of the GIFs.
And eventually the clock winds down to zero. Leafs win!
Final in LA: #Leafs 5, Kings 1.— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) November 14, 2018
Power play comes up with three goals, Andersen allows only one goal-against in his third straight game. All around, a good start to the California trip.
And with that the Leafs win Game One of the California road trip! The team is now 12-6-0 on the season, good for second in the conference (behind Tampa) and third in the league (also behind Nashville). Meanwhile, the Kings continue to be last.
See you Thursday night when the Buds play Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks!