Maple Leafs fall flat in Los Angeles
The Toronto Maple Leafs tallied the final two goals on Thursday night. Problem was, they trailed 5-0 by that point.
Andrew Raycroft gave up four goals on 11 shots in the first period and the Maple Leafs never recovered, losing 5-2 to the Los Angeles Kings before a crowd of 18,118 at the Staples Center.
"We knew we had to come out with a good start," Kings goaltender Jason LaBarbera said. "And we did."
Asked if his players have given up, Maple Leafs head coach Paul Maurice responded: "There is a concern about how poorly we're playing. But if they have quit, we would have seen three periods like the first period."
Dustin Brown scored twice to lead the Kings (16-27-2), while Alexander Frolov and Rob Blake had a goal and an assist apiece.
LaBarbera turned aside 48 of 50 shots, including 24 in the third period as Toronto tried to mount a comeback.
"I'm not going to lie to you, I'm a little tired right now," he said. "It was kind of funny how the game went … but it is fun to play in a game like that because it makes you battle and play that much harder."
"We're shooting pucks," Maple Leafs forward Alex Steen said. "The Philly game, I thought we were shooting a lot from the perimeter and weren't getting enough bodies in front of the net.
"Tonight, we did. But we still couldn't find a way to get it by their goalie."
Nik Antropov and Darcy Tucker solved LaBarbera in the final 35 minutes, but the Maple Leafs (16-20-8) remained winless at Los Angeles since March 12, 1998.
Rookie rearguard Anton Stralman registered his first NHL point, an assist on Antropov's power-play goal.
"It is a frustrating time," Steen said. "But we cannot get too down on ourselves or irritated or frustrated.
"We need to keep our heads up and our spirits up and make sure we turn this around. We have still got half a season to go."
Quick start for Kings
Calder opened the scoring for Los Angeles 2:44 into the contest, swatting a bouncing puck past Raycroft for his sixth goal of the season.
Brown batted in a rebound for his 21st, a power-play goal at 13:52 of the first period.
Frolov followed with his eighth on a splendid individual effort, circling behind the net with defenceman Hal Gill draped over him, spinning in the slot and firing a low shot between Raycroft's pads to put the Kings ahead 3-0 at 17:32.
When Raycroft lost sight of the puck in his skates with 54 seconds left, Brown whisked it into the net for his second goal of the period and 22nd overall.
"A lot of my goals are just like the ones tonight — being in front of the net," Brown said. "It is a matter of paying the price and being in the dirty areas to get the dirty goals.
"Experience and confidence helps. I mean, you can almost read where the puck is going to be."
Vesa Toskala, who suffered a 5-0 loss at Anaheim the night before, replaced Raycroft in the second period, permitting Blake's fourth on a slapshot at the 6:41 mark.
Antropov spoiled LaBarbera's shutout bid with 4:52 left in the period, deflecting Ian White's point shot for his 16th.
Toronto had a glorious opportunity to cut the deficit before the period was out, but LaBarbera foiled Tucker twice from point-blank range during a two-man advantage.
Tucker later blasted a slapshot by him to complete the scoring with 11:41 remaining, giving him five goals this season.
The Maple Leafs conclude their California trek at San Jose on Saturday night (CBC, 10 p.m. ET).
With files from the Canadian Press