A show of hands, please, for those who envisioned the Kings prevailing over the Toronto Maple Leafs in this fashion:
Rookie Michael Amadio with his first NHL goal, in his fourth game. Nick Shore with a playmaker’s pass to Trevor Lewis for another goal. Adrian Kempe bull-rushing his way to the net like an All-Star power forward.
Anything else? How about Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews rewarded with two penalty shots?
The Kings have survived wild finishes this season, and a 5-3 win Thursday was the latest version of an ongoing phenomenon. Third-line forwards Amadio, Lewis and Michael Cammalleri scored in the first period, and Tyler Toffoli struck twice in the second period in front of an announced 18,230 fans at Staples Center who sweated through a final 35 minutes with the Kings largely on their heels.
The Kings still got to 10-2-1 to match the franchise record for fewest games (13) to 10 wins to start the season. It was their sixth game scoring at least four goals, a feat that often seemed unreachable last season.
“I think we came out right away, and we played really hard and we played fast and we played our games,” Kempe said. “We got a couple of goals there in the beginning. I think that was huge for our team. I think we could have played better overall tonight, but I mean, it was a great effort by everybody.”
Toronto was not as representative as in its win against the Kings on Oct. 23. It played the previous night and started goalie Curtis McElhinney in only his second appearance this season.
But the Maple Leafs made up for a turnover-prone start. They broke the shutout on Matthews’ first penalty shot, awarded when Anze Kopitar got his stick on Matthews on a breakaway, and added another goal by Morgan Rielly with 1.5 seconds remaining in the second period. Jake Gardiner pulled Toronto to 5-3 with a power-play goal with 12 minutes to go, and the Kings held on after Matthews missed his second penalty shot in the third period.
Cammalleri and Amadio helped the Kings pounce on Toronto with strikes in the opening five minutes. Amadio took a pass from Tanner Pearson and wristed a shot between McElhinney’s pads from the right side. It was a reward for Amadio, recalled Oct. 26 and placed in a fourth-line role.
“It was a pretty undescribable feeling,” Amadio said of his first goal. “There was a lot of emotions going through my body and a great pass by Pearson to make that and turn the puck over and fortunately it was in the back of the net.”
The Kings were given the puck on a blooper-reel fall by Toronto defenseman Gardiner, one of two such spills by Toronto players in the first five minutes. Cammalleri got his stick on the puck with just enough muster for a power-play conversion for a 2-0 lead. Dustin Brown set him up by holding on to the puck while backing away from the right side of the net.
Lewis made it 3-0 with 36 seconds to go in the first period, courtesy of a zipped cross-ice pass by Shore, through Nikita Zaitsev’s legs. Shore created the possession too, when he forced Nazem Kadri off the puck in Toronto’s zone.
Toffoli scored on the power play and on Kempe’s impressive center-ice drive for a 5-0 lead.