Maple Leafs offence comes alive in drubbing of Kings to kick off California swing


John Tavares and Pierre Engvall had a goal and an assist apiece while Toronto scored four consecutive times in the second period, and the Maple Leafs rolled to a 6-2 victory over the host Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night.

Alexander Kerfoot, Auston Matthews, Jason Spezza and Michael Bunting also scored as the Leafs avenged their 5-1 loss to the Kings in Toronto on Nov. 8 with their own blowout victory. Toronto scored four goals in a 12 1/2-minute span of the second, and Bunting added a fifth straight in the third.

“I can’t remember the last time we’ve blown a game open like that, in terms of the goals going in, having a second period like that,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It’s been a long time, maybe all season, really.

“We’ve played good hockey on the road here of late, but we haven’t gotten the goals, so we’ve really had to grind it out to the very end. It’s nice today to have a nice cushion and leave here with lots of positives.”

Jack Campbell made 30 saves against his former team for Toronto, which opened a three-game California road swing with its seventh victory in eight games since that thrashing from the Kings 16 days ago. Campbell comfortably won his first game back at Staples Center since the Kings traded him to Toronto in February 2020.

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“We’re just rolling,” said Campbell, who resurrected his NHL career while spending nearly four years in the Kings organization. “We’re having fun. We’re working hard, and we’re just trying to get better each day. It’s just a great group to be a part of. We expect to be in this spot, and we’re just trying to keep getting better.”

Engvall, who had two points in his previous 15 games, started the second-period flurry with his first goal since the season opener. He ended up with the first multipoint performance of his 111-game NHL career.

Sean Durzi had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut for the Kings, who acquired the 23-year-old defenseman from his hometown Maple Leafs nearly three years ago. Durzi set up Viktor Arvidsson’s early goal before scoring his own with 3:53 to play, putting a hard shot just under the bar.

Jonathan Quick stopped 32 shots for the Kings, who have lost five straight since a seven-game winning streak — which was preceded by a six-game slide.

Los Angeles is winless in the first four games of a seven-game homestand. The Kings have allowed 18 goals during their five-game skid after previously ranking as one of the NHL’s top defensive teams.

“Let’s hope it was a one-off,” coach Todd McLellan said. “We won’t know until we play the next, but tonight was obviously not a good night for us. I thought that one team skated like they were on top of the ice, and smooth and fast. And another team just sloshed through the slush, if you will. We were slow. When we were quick to make decisions, we had poor execution.”

Quick entered the night sixth in the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage during his impressive bounce-back season, but Toronto put a big dent in his statistics.

Spezza capped the second-period flurry when he connected on the power play for his first goal since Oct. 23, snapping a 14-game drought.

“Winning is very fun, and it makes a fun atmosphere around the room,” Spezza said. “Makes the off days fun and makes practices fun. When you’re winning, it seems like everybody is feeling good. I think our team is coming closer together as a group and getting a lot of chemistry through these wins, and it creates a belief that we’re winning close games, we’re winning games the right way.”

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Durzi is a Mississauga, Ont., native who was drafted by the Leafs in the second round in 2018, but then traded to Los Angeles in a package for veteran defenceman Jake Muzzin in January 2019. Durzi, a childhood Leafs fan, had his parents, brothers and girlfriend in attendance at Staples Center for the big night, with his mom even interrupting a girls’ trip to the Dominican Republic to make it.

“It was nice,” Durzi said of his first goal. “Obviously, garbage time in the hockey game, but I thought to get it out of the way was good. There’s a lot to clean up, but it was really good.”

Toronto forward David Kampf left early in the first period after Los Angeles’ Rasmus Kupari clipped him in the head. Kampf will be re-evaluated Thursday.

“It looked to me like direct contact to his head, obviously,” Keefe said. “So you hate to see that. I don’t know how much intent was there. Looked pretty accidental to me.”

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