Strong second period lifts Kings to bounce-back victory over Maple Leafs
Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist, and Adrian Kempe and Viktor Arvidsson scored power-play goals during the second period in the Kings’ 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at Crypto.com Arena.
Gabriel Vilardi also scored during the Kings’ three-goal second period, and captain Anze Kopitar had two assists. Cal Petersen made 26 saves in an encouraging bounce-back victory for the Kings (5-5-0), who had lost three of four games after a solid start to the season.
“Special teams are huge always, and the fact that we were able to come on top of that is big, especially against this team,” Kopitar said. “I don’t think we gave up too much. We put up four again and were playing the checking game that we need to play, and the result is there.”
Gabriel Vilardi scored for the second straight game as the Kings fall late to the Winnipeg Jets 6-4 on Thursday at Crypto.com Arena.
Fiala came through with another big offensive game in his first season with the Kings, highlighted early in the third period when he robbed Rasmus Sandin of the puck and skated in on a breakaway for the game’s final goal. The prolific Swiss scorer has nine points in 10 games for the Kings, including three multi-point outings.
“Obviously, Kevin coming in has added a dimension,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “I thought him playing in the position he did tonight balanced things out a little bit more. He’s been able to create with workers and creative players in his career, so he did a real good job there.”
Petersen also had his best performance after yielding 12 goals in his first seven periods of action this season.
Captain John Tavares had a power-play goal and Pierre Engvall also scored for the Maple Leafs (4-4-1), who have lost three straight on their Western swing.
“We lost confidence a little bit the last three games,” said Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov, who stopped 25 shots. “We need to [get it] back. Hard to say [why], but whenever you’ve lost three games in a row, for sure your confidence will be lowered. You don’t have more smiles.”
The Anaheim Ducks’ scoring woes continue in a 4-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights that drops them to 1-6-1 on the young NHL season.
Tavares stuffed home his fourth goal of the season in the first period on a rebound after William Nylander shot the puck off the back boards. Although the Maple Leafs scored a game’s opening goal for only the third time in nine games this season, they struggled to get the puck out of their zone for long stretches of the Kings’ strong second period.
The Kings captured the lead with a pair of power-play goals. Kempe, who played his 400th career NHL game, put a one-timer into the top corner off a cross-ice pass from Fiala before Arvidsson cashed in a setup from Phillip Danault exactly six minutes later.
Vilardi then sneaked into the slot and buried a remarkable backhand pass from behind the net by Kopitar, the franchise’s career scoring leader.
“I think for the most part, we’re getting the other team’s best version of themselves,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “L.A. is coming off a tough loss. They were going to be dialed in defensively here after giving up six the night before. They made it hard for us to get off the wall. I thought we spent too much time on the boards. Yet I thought at five-on-five, it’s a pretty even hockey game. The difference is special teams, and you know, we did give them some gifts for goals, you know, that they didn’t necessarily give us, so that’s really the difference.”
Engvall trimmed the Maple Leafs’ deficit to 3-2 late in the second period with his first goal of the season off a loose puck in front after a Kings turnover.
Maple Leafs defenseman Filip Kral made his NHL debut with 16 shifts, including time on Toronto’s penalty kill. Kral appeared in 71 games with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies over the last three seasons.
Maple Leafs: At Ducks on Sunday night.
Kings: At St. Louis on Monday night.
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