Kings Host Maple Leafs At Staples Center

(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Kings finally broke into the win column on their longest homestand of the season, but tonight they must deal with a Toronto Maple Leafs squad that has been able to string together some recent road victories. Toronto, coming off its highest-scoring output of the season, aims for a fourth straight road victory this evening as it battles Los Angeles at the Staples Center.

The Maple Leafs kicked off a four-game road trip with a 9-3 rout in Atlanta on Friday. The Thrashers got the game's first goal, but Toronto responded with nine tallies in a row and scored six times in the second period alone. Nikolai Kulemin had two goals and four points, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski both notched a pair of tallies and an assist, while Kris Versteeg added a goal and two helpers. Tomas Kaberle set up four goals and James Reimer made 41 saves as Toronto won for the third time in four games overall.

Toronto also finished 5-for-7 on the power play, scoring four times when Atlanta's Ben Eager was given a match penalty late in the second period for a sucker-punch to Colby Armstrong. Eager was suspended four games for the infraction and Armstrong was held out of practice on Sunday due to a scratched cornea. His status for this game is unknown.

"He took a bad penalty." Toronto head coach Ron Wilson said of Eager. "It was uncalled for and we managed to take advantage of it. Both games now against Atlanta our power plays have worked really well. We were persistent all night long when we needed to be." Grabovski, meanwhile, continues to be red-hot. The forward has a goal in three straight games and in 11 of his past 14. He has tallied 12 goals in that span to up his season total to 17, three off his career high.

The Kings will try to slow down the 26-year-old tonight and notch a second straight victory after ending a five-game slide with Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Blue Jackets. Los Angeles led by four at one point before allowing Columbus to get within a goal late in regulation. Jarret Stoll notched a pair of goals, while Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams both ended with a goal and an assist. Jonathan Quick made 30 saves for the Kings, who began their eight-game homestand with four losses prior to Saturday's win.

Defenseman Jack Johnson celebrated a new seven-year contract with a career high-tying three assists. The third overall pick of the 2005 draft has 27 helpers and 31 points this year and is now slated to be with the Kings through the 2017-18 season. "That's great for Jack," said Los Angeles head coach Terry Murray. "He's a young guy that's going to be a great player in this game for a long time, so it's great to get him locked up. Those young defensemen are very hard to find, the guys with skill and talent and ability like that."

The Kings, now 14-6-1 as the host, are eight points back of the first-place Stars in the Pacific Division, while the Maple Leafs sit 13th in the Eastern Conference. In the only meeting between the clubs a season ago, the Kings notched a 5-3 victory in Toronto and have won three of the last four matchups overall. Stoll, Johnson and Smyth all had a goal, while Quick ended with 25 saves in his first career start versus the Leafs.

Kulemin scored for the Maple Leafs, who have a pair of victories and a tie in their last four trips to Los Angeles. Toronto goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who hasn't played since Dec. 16 due to a groin injury, is on pace to return to action Thursday in Phoenix. Reimer will start tonight and Jonas Gustavsson may get the call on Tuesday in San Jose.

For more Kings news and analysis, be sure to read the SB Nation blog Jewels From The Crown.

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