The LA Kings play their most well-rounded game of the 2022-23 NHL season as they take down Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2.
LAK – Kevin Fiala (2), Unassisted
Takeaways from the Saturday afternoon game
The LA Kings had an abysmal first period. Despite only being down 1-0 heading into the second period, the Kings looked tired and dreadful. In the first, a penalty taken by Kevin Fiala led to a power play goal for the Leafs. After the goal, LA began to vastly outplay the Leafs having multiple scoring chances.
The Kings looked like they matched up well with the Maple Leafs. Completely shutting down star players like Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews throughout the second let the LA Kings suppress shots against them and give them chances to spend more time in the offensive zone.
Not long after their first power play goal, the Kings scored another power play goal roughly halfway into the second period.
Viktor Arvidsson, like Adrian Kempe, scored on a one-time feed from a teammate. This time it was Phillip Danault who stole the puck in the neutral zone off of a bad pass from Pierre Engvall, and made a cross-crease pass to Viktor Arvidsson.
After a lengthy amount of time spent in the offensive zone just four minutes after LA’s second goal, the puck found its way into Anze Kopitar’s possession behind the net. Kopitar followed up by making a clean pass to red-hot Gabriel Vilardi, and Vilardi rifled it past Ilya Samsonov to make it 3-1.
Even though the Kings let up a late goal from Pierre Engvall, it looked like one of LA’s most complete periods in a while.
The best defensive showing this year
The LA Kings’ defensive system and goaltending have been their biggest issue this year. Game after game we’ve seen preventable goals being scored from the opponents because the defenders were out of position or that a goalie couldn’t make a simple save.
On Saturday night, the Kings didn’t have a single facepalm moment. The two goals that the Toronto Maple Leafs scored were genuinely good scoring chances. The Leafs finished the night with 3.7 xGF, but only ended up scoring twice.
Players like Mikey Anderson, Sean Walker, and Alex Edler had terrific games where they were able to leave players like Auston Matthews and William Nylander scoreless, which is a massive key to beating teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Cal Petersen finished the night with a .929 save percentage– the highest single-game save percentage of the 2022-23 season so far. The last few minutes where Toronto pressured the Kings in their own zone and had a few scoring chances saw Cal Petersen bail out the Kings in dramatic fashion making saves from almost everywhere on the ice.
Petersen’s outstanding showing against Toronto earned him a very well-deserved win, as well as a 1.7 GSAx on 28 shots against. Also an interesting factor– Cal Petersen plays better whenever the LA Kings are wearing their chrome domes. Maybe it’s time to switch to them full-time.
The fourth line needs a new look
It was a questionable decision by Todd McLellan to put out the fourth line late in the game against Winnipeg. That decision turned out to be a mistake as the Jets ended up scoring the game-winning goal.
On Saturday against Toronto, it felt no different. The fourth line consisting of Brendan Lemieux, Blake Lizotte, and Arthur Kaliyev finished the night with a 0.067 on-ice xGF. The lowest out of all four forward lines. They were also on the ice for Toronto’s second goal, where they had multiple opportunities to get the puck out of the zone yet failed to get rid of it.
Incoming Pierre ‼️ pic.twitter.com/otx5TRphJz— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 30, 2022
The line also had two on-ice shot attempts, which was six fewer attempts than the third line. Additionally, the line finished with five on-ice shot attempts against 32.1% xGF, 40% Corsi, and 20% Fenwick shots.
While the season is still young and the lines aren’t set in stone quite yet, it may be time for Todd McLellan to get creative with the fourth line and try some new techniques and players out. In the last few games, the fourth line has been the biggest liability for the LA Kings, and at this rate, it’ll leave the Kings playing three forward lines a night because of how little the fourth line positively contributes.
The LA Kings wrap up their three-game homestand going 2-1-0, recording two points. Thanks to their 4-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, LA gained a little more confidence in their defense, goal-scoring, and goaltending from Cal Petersen. On Monday, the LA Kings will kick off a three-game road trip where they will face the St. Louis Blues, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Florida Panthers.