The game between two of the league’s strongest possession teams went down on this Tuesday night game. Surely this would be a litmus test on whether the Leafs’ have been dominating possession by preying on weak opponents (Buffalo and Vancouver recently) or if the success has been genuine.
The lines for the game were:
A back and forth start to the first period looked to foreshadow an exciting game, as the two teams ran their respective systems effectively. The Leafs were starting to show dominance until the absolute dumbest penalty in the game, a delay of game call for puck-over-glass, was called against them. Thankfully the Leafs’ solid penalty kill manages to kill it off.
However, the penalty seemed to shift the momentum as the Kings began to take over the game. Eventually their control of the game led to an ever more unlikely Dustin Brown goal, shot through the legs of Ben Smith. The goal occured with 6 minutes left in the 1st period.
The Kings continued their dominance through the remainder of the period, drawing a penalty against Roman Polak which allowed them continue to deny the Leafs access to the puck. The Leafs would kill this off, and as Polak stepped out of the penalty box, Mitch Marner managed to feed him for a hilarious and ultimately unsuccessful breakaway. The period would finish with the Kings up 1-0.
The Leafs kicked off the second period with a strong showing, with some good chances from the Matthews line. The Kings, however, were able to get back into the Leafs zone, and after a mistake by Matthews himself leaving the puck behind, and poor recovery by the defense pair of Carrick and Marincin, and Pearson is able to snipe a one-time feed from Kopitar past Frederik Andersen, just 3 minutes into the period.
A short time later, Morgan Rielly was knocked over on a rush into the offensive zone, and a 3-on-2 rush came the other way, with Mitch Marner as one of the two. Tyler Toffoli is able to carry the puck in and rip a shot high glove side to beat Andersen for the 3rd time.
Some time went on while the Leafs struggled to get back into the game, including a great shift from a blender line of Kadri, Matthews and Marner that went fruitless. It was shortly followed by yet another Kings break into the Leafs zone, and another messy set up that Jeff Carter beats for a goal. This 4th goal with 6 minutes left in the 2nd would be the end of the night for Frederik Andersen.
The relief effort doesn’t start well for Enroth, as the Leafs continue to be outplayed by the Kings. Jeff Carter is able to bounce a puck off Enroth’s back from behind the net, that ends up in the net, with 90 seconds left in the 2nd period. The period would end with the Kings up 5-0.
I’ll be honest, at this point I was too scared about the US Election to really focus on the game.
The 3rd period was pretty uneventful, save for a strange bounce on a Derek Forbort shot that lands behind Enroth, leading to a 6-0 Kings lead with 4 minutes left in the game. Another bounce off of Dwight King’s skate goes past Enroth to make the final score 7-0 for the LA Kings.
The Kings absolutely ran away with this game. It’s clear that the Leafs have a ways to go before being the possession monster that LA has. I don’t the game was as much an utter mess as the score, and maybe this report, would suggest, but still a disappointing loss.
My 3 stars:
1. Anze Kopitar
2. Jeff Carter
3. Tyler Toffoli
Please check in on Friday when the Leafs play the Flyers, 7:00PM ET at the Air Canada Centre.