USC
USC earns Rose Bowl berth, capping dramatic turnaround

Martin Jones shutout helps Kings snap three-game skid

Backup goalie Martin Jones stopped 19 shots for his seventh career shutout

Fans at Staples Center were just getting settled in their seats Monday night when Kings center Anze Kopitar promptly got them standing again.

Less than one minute into the Kings' game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kopitar fired at the Toronto goal from a few feet and, at first, it appeared the puck caromed off the crossbar without entering the net.

But after a video review, officials ruled the puck had indeed crossed the goal's plane, Kopitar had his 10th goal of the season, and the Kings had a quick 1-0 lead.

Marian Gaborik added a goal in the game's final minute, when Toronto pulled its goalie, and the Kings shut out the Maple Leafs, 2-0.

The win, the 900th home victory in Kings franchise history, was a welcome reversal for the Kings overall and for goalie Martin Jones in particular.

The Kings (20-13-10) had lost their last three games and six of their last eight. Jones had allowed six goals in his prior start, a 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 12.

But with the Kings allowing 15 goals in their last three games and goalie Jonathan Quick having played 12 consecutive games, the Kings opted to start Jones on Monday night.

“We did a good job checking a pretty high-octane offensive team, so I thought we did a really good job,” Jones said. “As a team we wanted to make sure we had a better start and carry it through the game.”

The Kings came into the game without two key forwards.

Tyler Toffoli came down with mononucleosis, and Tanner Pearson broke his left leg Saturday night against the Winnipeg Jets, an injury that will require surgery. Toffoli is the Kings' third-highest scorer, with 12 goals and 27 points.

The Kings got another scare with 17:28 left in the third period Monday night, when a shot by Toronto's Dion Phaneuf struck Kopitar's head.

Kopitar, who wears a plastic shield that covers his eyes and nose, dropped to the ice, lay there for a minute and then was helped to the locker room. But three minutes later, Kopitar was back in the game.

The Kings overall had 20 shots on goal, while Toronto had 19.

This was the second and last regular-season meeting between the teams; the Maple Leafs won, 4-3, in a shootout in Toronto on Dec. 14.

Less than a month later, Toronto (22-18-3) fired coach Randy Carlyle, and the new interim coach is Peter Horachek, who is 1-2 since taking over.

The Kings will play host to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

james.peltz@latimes.com

Twitter: @PeltzLATimes

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
71°