TORONTO – Jack Campbell used to marvel at Jonathan Quick’s performances from the end of the bench.
Watching his former teammate excel in the opposite crease was much less enjoyable.
Quick made 33 saves Monday as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the sluggish Maple Leafs 5-1 to snap Toronto’s five-game winning streak.
Campbell, who spent parts of two seasons as the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner’s backup before the trade that brought him north of the border, stopped 24 shots, but was disappointed with his performance in a game he had circled.
“Everybody in the building knows that wasn’t my best,” Campbell said. “It cost us two points.”
There were, however, plenty of culprits on this night for the Leafs, who were stuck in second gear early against an opponent that now has a five-game winning streak of its own.
“That’s what we’re trying to get out of — this team that doesn’t play great one night and has lots of urgency and plays a way that is a recipe to win consistently,” Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “And then comes out the very next game and isn’t the same group.
“Until we get that sorted out, we’re going to continue to ride this wave.”
Phillip Danault had two goals and an assist for Los Angeles (6-5-1), while Andreas Athanasiou, with a goal and an assist, former Leafs forward Trevor Moore and Adrian Kempe, into an empty net, provided the rest of the offence. Alex Iafallo added two assists.
John Tavares replied for Toronto (7-5-1).
“We just weren’t able to sustain our game,” he said. “They do a really good job in the neutral zone, don’t give you a whole lot.”
Campbell rediscovered his game in Los Angeles after the Dallas Stars selected him 11th overall at the 2010 NHL draft before being acquired by the Leafs from the Kings in a February 2020 trade that included Moore going the other way.
The 29-year-old goaltender said there were plenty of emotions suiting up against his old team for the first time.
“I love it there, I love the boys, love what they did for me in L.A.,” he said. “Credit them for getting me to where I am today.
“Just disappointed I didn’t bring more to our team.”
Campbell and Quick shared a moment in the bowels of Scotiabank Arena post-game.
“He’s playing with a ton of confidence,” Campbell said of the 35-year-old. “He’s a legend, unbelievable career.
“Unbelievable teammate to me and to everybody.”
After hitting an early post, the Kings went up 1-0 at 10:52 of the opening period when Moore stepped past Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin — his former teammates with both the Leafs and the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies — before firing his first goal of the season past Campbell.
“They won a lot of puck battles, they won a lot of races,” Toronto winger Mitch Marner said of the first period. “We weren’t ready to go.”
The home side, which had a string of slow starts earlier in the schedule, came close at the other end when Quick robbed Wayne Simmonds in front.
Los Angeles had scored just five times in the first period this season coming into Monday, but doubled its lead at 14:21 when Athanasiou blew by Leafs blue-liner Jake Muzzin — another former King — and snuck a shot through Campbell for his first.
“He’s part of spotting them the 2-0 lead early on,” Keefe said of Toronto’s netminder. “But it’s guys in alone coming on him. That’s a tough ask for a goaltender. He’s bailed us out a lot, so we’ve come to expect him to have the ability to save those.
“But he’s got five guys playing in front of him.”
Keefe didn’t see the same urgency his team showed throughout its winning streak following an ugly four-game slide.
“What I’m perplexed about is just the start … like why we can’t come out and assert ourselves and have pace, and just let people fly through the neutral zone?” he said. “Opposition doesn’t give us that. We don’t get free passes to fly through the neutral zone and go in alone.
“We’ve got to earn those looks. We can’t give that stuff up.”
Toronto’s power play entered play 5 for 10 over the last four games, and connected in the second when Moore went off for hooking. Tavares was robbed by Quick early in the man advantage, but buried his seventh at 1:51.
The goal was the 99th in blue and white for Toronto’s captain, and the 14th consecutive scored for the Leafs by Tavares, Marner, William Nylander or Auston Matthews, who hit the post a few minutes later.
The Kings restored their two-goal edge at 13:56 when Danault — a surprise free-agent signing after helping Montreal make last season’s Stanley Cup final — scored his second on a sequence that saw the puck pinball in off his skate.
The NHL’s situation room initiated a video review to determine if there was a distinct kicking motion, but the call on the ice stood.
In the midst of a stretch of nine of 11 games at Scotiabank Arena, the Leafs had a couple terrific opportunities to get back within one before the period was out, but Quick robbed Marner and Nylander before Matthews fired just wide.
“He did make some big saves,” Marner said. “But we weren’t really around the net enough.
“We weren’t causing havoc.”
After killing off the visitors’ third power play early in the final period, Toronto got a man advantage of its own, but couldn’t generate much on the stingy Kings.
Quick denied Nylander on the doorstep with five minutes to go before Danault scored with 4:30 left in regulation and Kempe iced things into an empty net.
Campbell said the biggest takeaway from his years with Quick was the competitiveness his mentor brought — something he continues to try to emulate on a nightly basis.
“He’s a warrior in there,” Campbell said. “He taught me a lot … just really look up to him.
“It was fun to play him, but I definitely will bring my ‘A’ game next time.”
Notes: The Kings continue their four-game Canadian road trip Tuesday in Montreal. … The Leafs visit Philadelphia on Wednesday. … Liljegren dressed for a fifth straight game, while Justin Holl was once again a healthy scratch.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2021.
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