Tyler Toffoli scores Kings' lone goal, mulls the one that got away

Tyler Toffoli scores Kings' lone goal, mulls the one that got away
Kings forward Tyler Toffoli watches his shot head toward the post after beating Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival and goalie Corey Crawford in the third period. (Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

CHICAGO — Tyler Toffoli will try to remember to forget the one that didn't go in.

The 22-year-old Kings right wing probably will forget to remember the one that did.


So went Toffoli's Sunday during a 3-1 loss to the Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center.

"It just kind of slid off my stick," Toffoli said of what would have been his second game-tying goal early in the third period. "That happens once in a while, but you gotta regroup."

Toffoli had Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford leaning far left, which was all right with the Kings, who trailed 2-1 at the time. But Toffoli introduced rubber to metal and heard the dreaded "ping" as the puck bounced off the right post.

"I can't do that," Toffoli said. "I gotta get that back for us next game. … I gotta score those goals."

Toffoli got one back for the Kings once Sunday.

One minute 13 seconds after Jonathan Toews' goal was disallowed after a controversial review, Toffoli tied the score 1-1 on a centering pass from left wing Tanner Pearson with 15:25 left in the second.

"I was open, and I just chipped it over his glove," Toffoli said. "The call was fortunate for us. We came back and scored, but one goal is not enough. "

Neither were the 26 shots on goal the Kings had compared to the Blackhawks' 20.

"We had our chances," Pearson said. "It could have gone a different way. If Toff's shot doesn't go off the post it would have been a 2-2 game. It could have changed the whole game around."

Toffoli and his wing man, Pearson, 21, figure to change a few games around in the future for the Kings and coach Darryl Sutter, whose reputation doesn't include a fondness for trusting young players.

That may be changing, though.

Toffoli and Pearson may be forcing Sutter's hand. Despite their youth, Sutter said, fear is not a factor.

Both spent the beginning of the season with the Manchester Monarchs, for whom Toffoli had 15 goals and eight assists in 18 games, and Pearson 17 goals and 15 assists in 41. Toffoli had five game-winners for the Kings this season and has four goals and four assists in the postseason.

"I thought the line was good — Jeff [Carter], Tanner and Tyler," Sutter said. "They scored a big goal. Tyler was a good player for us against Chicago last year, too.


"I'm sure there wasn't any intimidation coming in this building."

The Blackhawks are 7-0 at home this postseason and 8-1 against the Kings in the last nine meetings. And even though the Kings have overcome two three-game losing streaks in this year's playoffs, it's a trend they'd like to end.

"We don't want to be in those situations, but we've done a good job of that so far," Pearson said of coming back. "We've got a lot of veteran guys in this lineup, and they're leading the way."

For now, at least.