Hollywood ending

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Apparently the Maple Leafs wake up a little earlier when the boss is in the building.

With new president and general manager Brian Burke fogged in at Boston and unable to join the team for the first road trip of his six-year reign, the Leafs took some time finding their sea legs last night at the Staples Center.

But once they did, the host Los Angeles Kings were the ones caught napping as the Leafs scored twice in the first four minutes of the third period to escape with a 3-1 win.

If you stayed up past your bedtime last night, you saw a sleepy looking Leafs team that, in front of a sparse Tinseltown crowd announced at 15,052, looked unwilling to engage the Kings physically early on.

The Leafs wasted little time opening up the three-game Western trip on a sour note when Matt Stajan gave away the puck in the neutral zone and before the game was a minute old, the Kings were up 1-0 on a breakaway from Alexander Frolov.

From there it was a snoozefest for both teams until the Leafs decided to rise and shine after the second intermission.

And rise they did. The Leafs tied it 2:09 into in the third when Matt Stajan barely got his stick on a bouncing puck in front of Kings goaltender Jason LaBarbera.

It was a milestone goal for the team on a couple of counts. For starters, it was the 18,000th goal in franchise history and of more contemporary significance, the first on a five-on-three advantage this season after a mere 17 tries.

"We were caught napping a little," coach Ron Wilson said. "When the game starts at 10:30, it's hard on your body clock, but Vesa (Toskala) really held us in there until we got going."

Toronto didn't waste any time taking the lead just a minute and 11 seconds later when Mikhail Grabovski buried a perfect feed from John Mitchell while the Leafs had a five-on-four advantage. Jeff Finger iced it on an empty netter with 9.5 seconds remaining.

The trip started with a bad break for the Leafs when hard-working forward Jamal Mayers suffered a broken hand in the first period and likely will be lost to the team for several weeks.

The first-year Leaf sustained the injury when he crashed into the post behind Leafs goalie Toskala in the first period. A team official said Mayers will be checked out today but it is expected he will be out of action for multiple weeks. Ryan Hollweg, who was a healthy scratch last night, will take his place tonight against the San Jose Sharks.

In boosting Burke's record to 2-0 as head honcho, the Leafs also got a third successive strong outing from Toskala, who made a handful of big saves in the final four minutes to preserve the win.

The Leafs were making just their third appearance in Los Angeles in the past nine seasons and didn't seem so anxious to be here in the early going. They were so dead offensively through two periods that rookie defenceman Luke Schenn had six of the team's 17 shots on net.

As for the new regime, Burke will have a full house should he make it to San Jose today to begin meeting with his staff. Fletcher, along with assistant GM Jeff Jackson and special assistant to the GM Joe Nieuwendyk, all are on the trip.

They will have plenty to evaluate, too, when the Leafs face the league-leading San Jose Sharks before moving on to Phoenix to play the Coyotes on Thursday.


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