Sloppy opening minute costs Leafs in LA

Kings scorers: Anze Kopitar (10), Marian Gaborik (14)
Goalies: Jones (Win), 60:00 minutes played, 19 saves, 0 GA, Bernier (Loss), 58:56 minutes played, 18 saves, 1 GA

After a rare weekend break for and their first win under interim coach Peter Horachek, the Leafs embarked on a California road trip that started against the Los Angeles Kings.

After landing in LA on Sunday evening, the Leafs were hoping that they could use the extra rest to get off to a strong start, but it took less than a minute for the Kings to take the lead on their first shift. After Anze Kopitar put the puck past Bernier, play continued as the officials didn’t realize the puck had entered the net, but they later determined that in did in fact cross the line.

Although the Leafs seemed to improve from their flat-footed play in the first, the second period was relatively uneventful and neither side was dominating to take control of the game. As the third period got underway, the Leafs were spending a lot of time in the King’s zone and were putting more pressure on Martin Jones, but they still weren’t coming close to tying the game. The game also grew more physical with several hits and both teams spending time in the penalty box.

As the third wore on, the Leafs just couldn’t get their play together and appeared to be slightly confused. The Leafs pulled Jonathan Bernier for the extra man in the final minute and Marian Gaborik made it 2-0 with an empty net goal.

Jonathan Bernier spoke to media after the game about the tough loss and positives that can be drawn from it. “We’ll take that loss, because I thought we deserved better. We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves, even though we lost. We have to look at the positives, and our game lately has been much better. Most of the West teams are playing really good defensively, and you’ve got to match that.”

With nine road games over their next 11 games, the Leafs will have their work cut out for them as they near closer to the second half of the season and the playoff race intensifies. They will have one day to regroup before facing off against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.