Nazem Kadri and John Tavares Lead Leafs to 5-1 Rout Over Kings
Toronto edged closer to the top scorers in NHL with 63, on the strength of multi-points games from Nazem Kadri (two goals), John Tavares (three assists.) Morgan Rielly also got a goal and an assist. The latter now leads NHL’s defense-men with 23 points, becoming the first back-liner aged 24 or younger with that many through 18 games, since Brian Leetch had 24 in the 1990-91 season.
“I think we know who we are, our identity and how we have to play,” Rielly said after a 5-1 loss in Boston. “It’s hard to do night in and night out, but the good teams find a way. It’s important we be consistent and find ways to keep it rolling for long periods of time.”
That’s four wins in their past five games for the Leafs. Including their first here since Randy Carlyle was coach and only one goal shy of their best offensive night in Hollywood since 1995. They’ve won 12 of their first 18.
For the first time since ’93-94′ Leafs have three players with 20-plus points after 18 games. As Rielly is joined by John Tavares and Mitch Marner on these stats. That has been achieved with Auston Matthews hurt and William Nylander remaining out.
Two of the hottest-scoring Leafs had first-period power-play goals. Kadri finished off five quick cross ice relays by tapping in a neat fake shot from Marner. The Kings misery was compounded by taking a second minor soon after. Against the faster Leafs, it cost them as John Tavares won the draw back to Rielly and got in position to tip in his shot.
Tavares, who had said he was feeling the pressure after the Matthews injury was concurrent with his slump. He has now scored in three straight games and four of the past five. Kadri has also clicked in three of his past four.
It took the Kings half the opening period to get their first shot, after the Leafs rattled off the first ten and they weren’t effective in their only man advantage. Blanked in their last game 1-0 by Calgary.
The Kings did get on the board before the period ended, thanks to a ghastly backhand giveaway up the middle by Igor Ozhiganov that was picked off by former Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf. Looking for his first point of the year, the minus-12 Phaneuf’s low drive was tipped by fourth liner Adrian Kempe.
Peter Budaj was making his first start in almost a year for the Kings. This was down to long-term injuries for Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell. He was lifted after four goals in 19 shots, the last coming from fourth line pressure capped by Andreas Johnsson, leading to Cal Petersen’s NHL debut.
The Staples’ organist played the Notre Dame fight song for the Irish star and he got his feet wet. He made some good saves before Kadri scored once again.
Heading into San Jose on Thursday, the Leafs now have seven wins in eight games on the road. Frederik Andersen wasn’t tested often as picked up his 10th win of the season. He’s within one win of tying Bruce Gamble’s franchise record.