Leafs lose to Kings in shootout

Kings defenceman Drew Doughty (left) checks Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak in front of goaltender...

Kings defenceman Drew Doughty (left) checks Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak in front of goaltender Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ont., Dec. 19, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

TORONTO - James Reimer ensured the Maple Leafs got one point on Monday night.

But the Leafs goaltender didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates and, as a result, one point was all they had to show for in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Los Angeles Kings at the Air Canada Centre.

Dustin Brown scored the only goal in the after-game skills competition, but in regulation and overtime combined, Reimer, in his best performance since returning on Dec. 3 from a concussion, made 40 saves.

The Leafs moved ahead of the Buffalo Sabres into seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 36 points, yet the fact remains that Toronto has lost seven of its past nine games, with just two more matches before Christmas to try to reverse the slide.

Gone are the days that the Leafs confidently were moving the puck, especially out of the defensive zone. While many look at the penalty kill as the Leafs’ biggest problem — and it’s a doozy (though they managed to kill off four of five against the Kings) — there are other concerns.

“The bottom line is we have to play better in front of (Reimer) and get back to our game,” defenceman John-Michael Liles said. “We have to get more pucks and bodies to the net. It’s something we talked about in here, something we have to continue to focus on.

“This league is too tough, too close, there’s too much parity if you take a couple of shifts off, and momentum can change quick.”

Reimer couldn’t have had worse luck on the Kings’ two goals in regulation, but the mentally grounded goalie wasn’t whining about it during his post-game scrum with reporters.

Justin Williams gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 7:54 of the first period thanks an assist from a stanchion behind the Leafs net. Drew Doughty’s dump-in bounced off the support bar directly to Williams, who beat a surprised Reimer with a high wrist shot.

Liles tied the game a few minutes later when he fired a slapshot past Jonathan Quick, who made 31 saves on the night, for his fourth goal of the season and first at the ACC.

But the Kings, winners of just one of their previous seven games, got another weird one in the second period. The puck appeared to get past Doughty at the Leafs’ blue line during a Los Angeles power play, but offside was not called, and seconds later Brown scored from the slot.

“Adversity makes you a better person and a better player,” Reimer said, referring more to the Williams goal. “It will turn me into a better goalie at the end of the season, end of my career, you name it. Those things happen sometimes.”

Much was made of Ron Wilson’s line juggling prior to the game, and there was more once it started. Colby Armstrong was a late scratch after it was revealed by Wilson that the forward suffered a concussion on Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks. With David Steckel fighting illness, the absences meant that for only the fourth time this season, Jay Rosehill and Colton Orr were in the Leafs lineup on the same night.

Tim Connolly lasted just two periods between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, replaced in that spot by Tyler Bozak to start the third. Matt Frattin, who had been with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin earlier this season, replaced Clarke MacArthur on that line again for the last period of regulation.

Frattin finished a pretty three-way passing play with his linemates to even the score at 2-2 at 2:56 of the third, but the Leafs couldn’t beat Quick again. The Kings, in their past 72 games when leading after two periods, are 68-0-4.

In the shootout, Kessel hit the post, Frattin shot over the net and Lupul was poke-checked. For the Kings, Jarret Stoll’s shot went over the net and Reimer stopped Anze Kopitar before Brown nailed a victory for the visitors.

It was the Kings’ final game under interim coach John Stevens before Darryl Sutter takes over.

“That game was there for us,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. “Reims gave us an opportunity to be in the game, and held us in it for us to push it to overtime.

“We’re not happy with losing games. But you’re not going to have an 82-game season that goes perfect. I have not seen that yet.”


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