The Maple Leafs’ five-game winning streak came to an end with a thud and a 5-1 loss to Los Angeles on Monday at Scotiabank Arena.
The Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and frustrated Toronto for the rest of the way. Phillip Danault scored twice for Los Angeles and Trevor Moore, Andreas Athanasiou and Adrian Kempe had one goal each. Jonathan Quick had 33 saves.
John Tavares had the home team’s lone goal, his seventh already in the young season, but the Maple Leafs were undone by ragged play.
They dropped to 7-5-1 and play in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Wednesday. The victory was the fifth in a row for the resurgent Kings, who improved to 6-5-1.
“What I am perplexed about is why we can’t come out and have urgency and have pace,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “You spot them a lead and it is tough sledding the rest of the way. We played right into their hands tonight.”
Moore, who was dealt to Los Angeles by Toronto in exchange for Jack Campbell in 2020, scored a gorgeous goal to put Los Angeles up 1-0 a little more than midway through the first period.
Moore skated hard along the wall and past both Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin before he chipped a puck over Campbell for his first goal of the year. Athanasiou then squeezed a shot from in tight beneath Campbell’s arm for a 2-0 lead, and it proved to be a hole that the Maple Leafs could not climb out of.
“I am pretty sure everybody in the building knows that wasn’t my best tonight,” Campbell said. He stopped 24 of 28 shots in the defeat. “I wasn’t able to make a couple of routine saves and were down 2-0.”
Early in his career, Campbell watched videos of Quick and studied the way he played goalie. One year, he went to Connecticut to train, simply because Quick also trained there. Later, after he was traded to Los Angeles, Campbell served as Quick’s understudy.
He was looking forward to a duel with his former mentor but it didn’t pan out.
“Jonathan was great,” Campbell said. “He is playing with great confidence and his teammates are rallying around him. He’s a warrior in there. I am disappointed I didn’t play better and know the next time I play against him I have to bring my ‘A’ game.”
Funny how things work out. When Campbell was traded to Toronto, he was brought in to be Frederik Andersen’s backup. As Andersen struggled with injuries and consistency, Campbell replaced him as the Maple Leafs starter.
Now he is firmly entrenched as the club’s No. 1 goaltender and was off to blistering start before Monday. He entered the contest with a 6-2-1 record, a 1.88 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
He had been playing better than Quick, who has been the Kings’ primary goalie since 2008-2009 and holds pretty much every franchise record for netminders. He helped Los Angeles win two Stanley Cups and was instrumental in helping Campbell lay the groundwork for what has become a blossoming career.
“The guy means the world to me,” Campbell said on Sunday. “He was the ultimate teammate, and a guy to look up to. I can’t say enough good things about him. He is a legend.”
Tavares scored his team-leading seventh goal on a power play to cut the margin to 2-1 early in the second. But then Danault, a Toronto playoff nemesis last year when he was in Montreal, was credited with a goal after a puck bounced off his skate and trickled by Campbell late in the second period. Danault added a second goal when he beat Campbell from in close with 4:28 remaining, and then Adrian Kempe scored a minute later with Campbell pulled to add an extra attacker.
Toronto fired a barrage of shots at Quick but could only beat him the one time.
“We just weren’t able to sustain our game,” Tavares said. “[The Kings] don’t give you a lot. After giving up the lead and having to play from behind we weren’t able to pressure them enough.”
Toronto entered the contest with five straight wins, and in four of those Campbell was in the net. He stopped 119 of 124 shots he faced during the stretch. The five that got by him he wears on his shoulders.
“He judges himself harshly and expects a lot of himself,” Jason Spezza, the Maple Leafs’ veteran centre, said. “Sometimes he sees situations and feels it his fault [when] it’s not. It shows the passion he has and the drive that he has but as a teammate you have to remind him that it’s a team game.”