Opposing crowd? No problem for the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings opened a three-game road trip on Tuesday, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. They extended their undefeated road record to 4-0, displaying dominance away from Los Angeles.
The Kings’ success on the road has been fueled by their penalty kill. They entered Tuesday’s game a perfect ten-of-ten on the penalty kill on the road. Against the Maple Leafs, they killed three-of-four power plays, but the three they killed helped them build a lead.
The Kings’ first penalty kill came early in the first period, giving them momentum. Shortly after, 6:38 into the first period, Andreas Englund scored his first NHL goal off a deflected backhanded shot, giving the Kings a 1-0 lead. The Kings stayed strong on the penalty kill as they continued adding goals throughout the night.
“Couldn’t be happier for him [Englund],” said head coach Todd McLellan. “He does some of the dirty work for our team that does not go unnoticed, at least in our locker room and the coach’s office. He is a great personality for our group. And to see him get his first goal, that gave us a little boost… it was a motivating moment for our group.”
11:40 into the first period, Moore spun away from a Maple Leafs defenseman toward the goal and zipped the puck across the front of the goal to Phillip Danault, who scored, delivering the Kings a 2-0 lead.
9:46 into the second period, Arthur Kaliyev scored a power-play goal with a rocket of a wrist shot off the post, giving the Kings a 3-0 lead.
The Maple Leafs got one back in the third period when John Tavares scored a power-play goal, but the Kings ensured that was all. 12:13 into the third period, Adrian Kempe scored to provide the Kings a 4-1 lead, sealing the victory.
“We had some energy,” said McLellan about gaining momentum after a penalty kill. “We felt good about ourselves about getting that job done. And then to respond with a line after and get momentum back in our favor is important. That is hugely how it has to go if you are going to win a game. We were able to do that. Unfortunately, we gave up one in the third, but it was late enough in the game, and we responded after that positively with our foot on the gas pedal and went and found the fourth.”
Quinton Byfield led the team with two points after assisting two goals, while many others added one point to their totals. The Kings have shown their depth as 18 players have racked up two or more points through nine games.
“We have been saying that was Q’s [Byfield’s] best of the year almost every game this year,” McLellan said. “That is a good sign for him and for us. A couple of assists and all that, but the tenacity that he is playing with is quite obvious. The way he hunts pucks down creates turnovers; he is going from A to B really quick. The confidence he is playing with allows him to move from job to job without a pause now. And there used to be pauses. He is feeling better with the puck. It is going to go in eventually for him, but right now, we will take what we are getting from him.”
Goalkeeper Cam Talbot also helped the Kings win while making his sixth start of the season. He saved 31 of the 32 shots (.968 save %) he faced.
“I thought he was really good tonight,” McLellan said. “He was calm, which settles our group down. He was pretty predictable as a goaltender in the net, which helps us because we try to play a predictable game defensively. He made timely saves. And he got us the win.”
The Kings moved to second in the Pacific Division with 12 points, one ahead of the Vancouver Canucks at 11 points. Next, they play the Ottawa Senators in the second game of their road trip on Thursday with a chance to continue adding points early in the season.