Kings shut out for 1st time this season in loss to Maple Leafs – Orange County Register

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LOS ANGELES — Kings coach Todd McLellan has resisted the temptation – and, by his own admission, the suggestion – to tinker with his forward lines significantly this season.

But even he could wait no longer than the middle of Tuesday night’s 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Arena to make wholesale reconfigurations, and to little avail.

Cam Talbot continued to pull his weight, denying 26 of 28 Toronto shots, but the Kings were shut out for the first time this season and have lost three straight games for just the second time this season. Both slumps were part of their past 11 games, of which they’ve won just four. That timing has been inopportune since second-place Vegas has lost five of its past six, with its only win coming against the Kings.

William Nylander opened the scoring and capped it with an empty-net goal. In between, Calle Järnkrok also scored. Tyler Bertuzzi had two assists. Goalie Martin Jones made 31 saves and earned his 23rd career win against his one-time club, nine more than he has against any other franchise. It was his second shutout of the season for Toronto, the fourth franchise with which he has faced his former cohorts.

In the final 20 minutes, the Kings got a jolt from Andreas Englund’s fight against Simon Benoit, but couldn’t seize on that or any other momentum. They ultimately built a shot advantage and reclaimed some territory, but never recovered from a vast disadvantage in the quality of chances through the first 40.

Nylander sealed their fate with an empty-net goal in the final minute, giving him two goals in the game and 50 points for the season and moving him into a tie for third in the NHL.

With 13:59 remaining, the Kings appeared to halve their lead thanks to the persistence of Quinton Byfield, but his swiping goal was nullified because the officials determined one of the Kings’ sticks had pushed the pad of Jones into the net, constituting goaltender interference.

The second period saw the Leafs find their game and the Kings lose their way, finishing with a 2-0 count in favor of the visitors and with the hosts’ lines pureed, chopped, mixed and blended.

In the most drastic shuffling of his forward lines this season, McLellan made sweeping changes, even breaking up his top line to drop Adrian Kempe onto Pierre-Luc Dubois’ flank. Each of the first three lines had one new member after the Leafs scored twice in a tick over three minutes.

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