Leafs top Kings for fifth straight win


The Toronto Maple Leafs allowed a 2-0 lead to evaporate, but battled back to edge the L.A. Kings 4-3 in a shootout Sunday.

It’s Toronto’s league-leading 13th home ice win of the season.

Joffrey Lupul was the lone goal scorer in the breakaway competition as the Leafs improved to 9-1-1 since their 9-2 loss on home ice to the Nashville Predators Nov. 18.

Mike Santorelli had a goal and an assist on his 29th birthday and Cody Franson scored with less than a minute remaining in the first period to give the Leafs a 2-0 lead after one period. Toronto improved to 13-0-0 this season when scoring the game’s first goal.

L.A. responded with three unanswered as Justin Williams, Dwight King and Marian Gaborik gave the Kings a 3-2 lead just over a minute into the third period.

James van Riemsdyk tied it at 3-3 before the midway mark of the third to force overtime.

James Reimer 33 saves for his second straight win while Jonathan Quick stopped 28 shots in the loss.

With the loss, the Kings dropped to 1-2-1 on their road trip, which concludes Tuesday in St. Louis.

Get your game notes: Leafs at Wings


Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Detroit Red Wings hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Top of the East: At 17-6-5, Detroit has 39 points, which ties the team with Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh for the top spot in the Eastern Conference…

• Since Detroit dropped a 4-1 contest in Toronto on Nov. 22, Detroit has gone 7-1-0 in its last 8 games

• In this 8-game stretch, the Red Wings are averaging 4.00 goals/gm, and have scored 3+ goals in each of those games. DET is now the 4th-highest scoring team in the NHL (3.11 G/GM, behind PIT, TOR, and 1st-place TB).

• The Wings are on a 3-game win streak, defeating DAL, NYR, and CAR by a combined score of 11-5.

• Coach Mike Babcock became the 19th coach – and 2nd fastest – to 500 career wins last Sat. in the win over the Rangers. He then tied Pat Burns with his 501st career win the next day when DET beat CAR. Next up on the list is current Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who has 521 all-time wins.

• Babcock said the following about his team yesterday: “This is the best team we’ve had here since ’09, not necessarily point-wise, but direction-wise” (the ’09 Wings team lost to PIT in the Cup Final).

• Maple Leafs recovery: On Nov. 18, the Maple Leafs allowed 9 goals in a game for the first time since Dec. 1991 in a 9-2 home thrashing at the hands of the Predators. Since then, the Leafs have rebounded to go 6-1-1 in their past 8 games….

• They have scored at least 3 goals in all 8 of those games, and now boast the 2nd-best offense in the NHL, scoring 3.44 goals/game.

• The Leafs are also coming off a 5-game home stand in which they went 4-1-0, including decisive wins in their past two games over VAN (last Saturday) and CGY (yesterday), outscoring those two teams 9-3.


• The Maple Leafs’ top line of LW James van Riemsdyk, C Tyler Bozak, and RW Phil Kessel are the top three scorers for Toronto this season, and they’ve been particularly effective of late:

• Kessel has 28 points (14G, 14A) in 27 GP this season, including 5 points in his last 5 games after a goal in last night’s 4-1 win over CGY.

• Kessel has led TOR in scoring every season since 2009-10 – the season he was acquired from BOS.

• Bozak is on pace for a career season with 24 points (11G, 13A) in 27 games. While he does not have a point in his last 2 games, Bozak still has 9 points (5G, 4A) in his last 8 games overall.

• Bozak set career-highs with 19 goals and 30 assists last season.

• Van Riemsdyk has 23 points (11G, 12A) in 27 games this season, including 6 in his last 5 games.

• C Mike Santorelli has been on a tear in his last 7 games, posting 2 goals, 8 assists, and a +8 rating in that span.

• Santorelli is 4th on the team in points (19), and is tied with Kessel and Dion Phaneuf for the team lead in assists with 14.

• The 28-year-old is in his first season with the Leafs after stints in NSH, FLA, WPG, and VAN. The Leafs signed him this offseason to a 1-yr/$1.5M contract.

• While G James Reimer and G Jonathan Bernier split time early, Bernier appears to have control of the starting job having made 9 straight starts, the longest stretch of consecutive starts in his career.

• Bernier is 6-2-1 in that stretch, including a win last night vs. Calgary in which he stopped 32 of 33 shots.

• However, Reimer is likely to play tonight, as this is TOR’s first back-to-back stretch since Nov. 15, which was also when Reimer made his last start. In that game, a 6-2 loss in Buffalo, Reimer allowed 6 goals on 35 shots. Overall, Reimer is 4-3-0 with a 3.64 GAA and .898 SV%, both career-worsts for a season.

• Reimer has never defeated DET in his career, posting a 0-3-0 record, 3.96 GAA, and .877 SV%.


• C Pavel Datsyuk began the season on injured reserve with a separated shoulder (suffered in preseason), and overall he has played in just 17 of the Red Wings’ 28 games.

• Despite this, he is tied for the team lead in goals (12 – with Nyquist and Tatar) and is 2nd in points (22).

• Datsyuk has had multi-point efforts in 4 of his last 5 games, posting 5G, 4A in that stretch.

• Datsyuk had a hand in all 3 goals in DET’s 3-1 win in CAR on Sunday with a goal and 2 assists.

• For his efforts last week, Datsyuk was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week.

• Captain C Henrik Zetterberg has played in all 28 games and leads DET in assists (19) and points (24).

• Zetterberg has been held without a point during the Red Wings’ 3-game winning streak.

• RW Gustav Nyquist is tied for the team lead in goals with 12 (Datsyuk, Tatar).

• Nyquist leads the team in PPG (7) – that ranks him 4th overall in the NHL (3 players have 8 PPG).

• Over the last two seasons, Nyquist has scored 40 goals in 85 games.

• LW Tomas Tatar is the 3rd Red Wing with 12 goals this season (Datsyuk, Nyquist). He is 3rd on the team in points (20).

• G Jimmy Howard is 13-5-4 with a 2.21 GAA and .917 SV% this season. He is 8-3-1 in his last 12 starts.

Leafs snap skid with 5-2 win over Lightning


After being out-scored 15-4 over two losses, the Toronto Maple Leafs replied with five of their own Thursday night beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

David Clarkson, who scored five goals all of last season, opened the scoring with his sixth of the season.

After Alex Killorn tied the game 1-1, Toronto responded with three unanswered second period goals.

Richard Panik, who spent parts of two seasons with the Lightning, scored his fourth of the season.

Then James van Riemsdyk scored twice in less than three minutes giving the Leafs a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Defenseman Cody Franson picked up an assist on van Riemsdyk’s first of the night extending his point streak to a career-best nine games. Franson is now one game shy of matching Tom Kurvers’ record for longest point streak by a Leafs defenceman (10 games – Jan. 15-Feb. 7, 1990)

“The last two games before tonight we weren’t playing close to how we drew up our gameplan,” Franson said post-game. “We got away from our system and we didn’t stay disciplined to what we wanted to do. We gave up too many odd-man rushes.

“Tonight we were much more positionally sound. We didn’t give them a ton of offensive chances. You’re bound to give yourself a better chance to win games when you play smart hockey like that.”

Roman Polak added an empty netter in the third period.

Steven Stamkos had the other Lightning goal.

“We knew they were coming off of a loss. We were coming off a loss too. It should have been two desperate teams tonight,” Stamkos said. “I can’t say we really earned any of our breaks tonight. We only gave them 20 shots, I think, but we just didn’t play our game. We didn’t get any pucks deep. We didn’t use our speed. We didn’t control the play and the pace and we took too many penalties early.”

Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves improving to 6-5-2 on the season. Ben Bishop made 16 saves in the loss.

Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was disappointed in the lack of response from his team following Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Islanders.

“One thing all year, we’ve been a team that’s answered,” Cooper said. “We’ve answered the bell after a loss, and clearly we didn’t answer the bell today so that was frustrating.”

Welcome Dion Phaneuf to the trade rumor mill


For the record, this isn’t due to any specific report that Dion Phaneuf is being shopped. While the Maple Leafs reportedly fielded “inquiries” on their captain during the summer, the most recent trade speculation (and there’s been plenty, not just limited to Phaneuf) comes on the heels of Toronto’s embarrassing back-to-back losses to Buffalo and Nashville.

The main argument for trading Phaneuf? Besides the fact he hasn’t been all that great this season, it’s that the Leafs, as they’re currently composed, are married to mediocrity. In order to get a divorce, they’ll need to shed some of the big contracts they’ve got on the books. And Phaneuf’s contract (7 years, $49 million, through 2020-21) is second in size to only Phil Kessel’s (8 years, $64 million, through 2021-21).

There will, of course, be those who argue that Phaneuf has little trade value, that moving him would amount to a salary dump and no more. That may indeed be the case. Then again, take a look around the league. In case you haven’t noticed, teams desperately need defensemen. (Dallas, Philadelphia, Colorado, Edmonton, to name just four.) Phaneuf may not be an elite blue-liner in the sense that he’s in the running for the Norris Trophy, but beggars can’t be choosers. (Lest we forget what Brooks Orpik — five years older than Phaneuf, and with far fewer offensive capabilities — commanded in free agency.)

This is far from the first time that Phaneuf’s name has been bandied about in trade speculation. If he is dealt, it probably won’t be tomorrow.

But as the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur wrote today, “The Leafs shouldn’t be impatient, but they need to be decisive. They need to decide on the core of Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, David Clarkson (contractually, anyway), and what to do with them.”

And while Leafs GM Dave Nonis said yesterday that the Leafs wouldn’t overreact to a couple of bad losses — “You can do a lot of damage to the long-term success of your team by overreacting,” he told reporters — he also said, “If there’s a deal there to be made that helps us, then we’ll do it.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk on LTIR, reportedly out 2-3 months

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Trevor van Riemsdyk’s first season in the NHL has unfortunately been put on hold. He left Sunday’s game after absorbing a shot to the leg and is now projected to miss the next two-to-three months, according to an ESPN source.

Chicago hasn’t confirmed that timetable, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville did describe the injury as “pretty bad” and he’s already been placed on the long-term injured reserve list, per CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers.

The 23-year-old defenseman joined Chicago after spending three years with the University of New Hampshire. He has an assist in 18 games this season and is the younger brother of Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk.

“Trevor’s been great for us,” Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman told PHT’s Dhiren Mahiban. “He sort of came in without a lot of expectations and he’s been great. Unfortunately he got injured the other night, but nevertheless, he’s been a nice addition to our group.”

The Blackhawks announced that they have summoned defenseman Adam Clendening and forward Joakim Nordstrom from AHL Rockford. Clendening shared the Rockford Defenseman of the Year honors with Klas Dahlbeck in 2013-14. He was taken with the 36th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Clendening has four points and 10 penalty minutes in 16 AHL contests in 2014-15 and is looking to make his NHL debut.