LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings
got a glimpse of their future in their first matchup with new Pacific Division rivals the Vancouver Canucks
. After injuries to right wing Jeff Carter and center Jarret Stoll raised concerns about their offense, the team turned to a couple of rookies in the hopes of filling the net. Tyler Toffoli
scored two goals and an assist and Linden Vey
added his first career assist as the rookie forwards played a key part in the 5-1 win over the Canucks on Saturday night. Kings center Mike Richards added a goal and two assists.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 25 shots for the Kings (11-6-0), who won for the 10th time in their last 14 games. Though Toffoli and Richards led the way, statistically, the victory was a total team effort as 10 different Kings had points.
Los Angeles blitzed Vancouver with a three-goal barrage within a 2:33 span of the second period that forced Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo
from the game.
Richards, Toffoli and right winger Justin Williams capitalized on uncharacteristic sloppy Canucks play that gave the Kings an insurmountable 5-1 lead heading into the third period.
The final goal for the trio was Toffoli's second of the night and the first time he scored since being recalled from the Kings' Manchester AHL affiliate three games ago. Toffoli finished off a 2-on-1 with Richards that Vancouver backup goalie Eddie Lack had no chance of stopping.
"It took a little bit of time to adjust back to hockey and I just started heating up again with not just myself, but the whole team was playing really well," Toffoli commented about his career-best three point effort.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who made the decision to send Toffoli and Vey down to the AHL at the start of the season, sees improvement from them with every game.
"Both of them showed their offensive composure and their ability to handle pucks under pressure," he said. "Tyler is a shooter and Linden is a playmaker. Linden made a good play on Jordan's goal. Tyler, and his whole line played well."
After right winger Jordan Nolan and Toffoli gave the Kings a 2-0 lead after the first period, the Canucks sliced the margin in half when defenseman Dan Hamhuis atoned for an early error and blasted a slap shot past Quick at 8:52 of the second period.
Vancouver coach John Tortorella waved the white flag early in the third period, limiting the playing time of star forwards Henrik and Daniel Sedin to a couple of shifts in addition to resting Luongo for the second half of the game. A game Sunday game in Anaheim ends the toughest part of Vancouver's schedule, a stretch that had them play 11 of 14 games away from Rogers Centre.
"I thought in the first two periods we had surges early, but couldn't score," Tortorella said. "It's a 5-1 game and you think you got spanked, but I thought Quick made some really important saves at key times. We had some breakdowns, and it's in the back of our net."
The Kings opened the scoring at 12:23 of the first on a turnover by Hamhuis, who fumbled the puck at the Los Angeles blue line that led to a three-one-two rush that was finished by Nolan. He converted a feed from Vey.
With the team each short a man, the Kings doubled their lead at 19:50 of the first period. Richards broke out of his own zone on an odd-man rush. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty then fed Toffoli, who batted the pass past Luongo.
NOTES: Vancouver entered the game with the NHL's second best penalty kill with a success rate of 88.5 percent. They finished eighth overall on the penalty kill last season with a 84 percent rate. ... The game marked the return to Staples Center of former Kings C Brad Richardson, who signed a two-year deal with Vancouver after spending five seasons with Los Angeles. ... Through the first 18 games of the season, the Canucks produced more wins than any other NHL team when their opponent scores first (6-3-1). ... The Kings embark on a four-game, six-day Eastern road trip starting Tuesday with a rematch against the Sabres in Buffalo. ... Kings C Anze Kopitar entered the game with 11 points (4G, 7A) in his last eight games.
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- Vancouver Canucks
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