LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey spent the first month of the season as highly successful linemates in the minors. Now that they’re roommates with the Los Angeles Kings, they’re still making good things happen together.
Toffoli had two goals and an assist in his third game back from the minors, and Mike Richards had a goal and two assists in the Los Angeles Kings’ 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
While Toffoli had the first three-point game of his short Kings career, Vey earned his first NHL point with an early assist in Los Angeles’ 10th victory in 14 games.
“It’s good to get the win, especially with the rivalry between the two teams the last couple of years,” said Vey, who made his NHL debut Thursday. “It was an intense game. … I think Tof and I bring a little bit of energy and excitement. We’re new to the league, so we have a lot of excitement coming into the game. We just need to keep rolling.”
Toffoli saw playoff action during Los Angeles’ run to the Western Conference finals last summer, and he teamed up with Vey on the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs last month after failing to make the Kings’ roster out of training camp. Both were recalled a week ago to fill in for injured veterans Jeff Carter and Jarret Stoll.
Although the youngsters are temporary solutions to the Kings’ injury problems, Toffoli and Vey are making a strong case for more permanent jobs in the near future.
“We’re pretty good friends, so it makes things a whole lot easier,” Toffoli said. “We have each other to hang out, and at the same time, all of the guys have been great helping us out and making us feel really welcome.”
Richards, Justin Williams and Toffoli scored in a 2:33 span midway through the second period for the Kings, chasing Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo in the process.
Jonathan Quick made 25 saves, and Jordan Nolan scored an early goal on Vey’s pass in a game that turned out to be a showcase for the Kings’ two rookies.
“It’s exciting for them, and they bring that enthusiasm into games,” said Richards, who has eight points in four games. “They have the confidence to make plays, and they’re both smart passers.”
Dan Hamhuis scored in the Canucks’ first game against Los Angeles as division rivals since 1998. Luongo stopped 14 shots before getting pulled after the Kings’ fourth goal midway through the second period.
“I thought in the first two periods we had surges early, but we couldn’t score,” Vancouver coach John 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 Sedin twins were held scoreless for the second straight night on the Canucks’ four-game trip to each of the reconfigured Pacific Division’s four U.S.-based teams.
“We had a few chances in the first period, but Quick played good,” Daniel Sedin said. “We didn’t play terrible the first two periods, but we have to be better. We made a few mistakes and it cost us. They’ve got a very good team, for sure, and they’re well-coached. But we didn’t play our best game.”
The Kings played without three veteran regulars due to injuries, and left wing Kyle Clifford went down with an undisclosed injury early in the game. Carter sat out his third consecutive game, while Stoll missed his second straight and defenceman Matt Greene was scratched with an undisclosed injury.
After a wide-open few minutes in the first period, Nolan put the Kings ahead in a sequence that started when Hamhuis tumbled and lost the puck at Los Angeles’ blue line. Vey, playing his second NHL game, nimbly deked longtime Kings forward Brad Richardson on the rush before feeding Nolan for his third goal.
Toffoli scored late in the period after two exceptional passes by Richards and Drew Doughty, who found the youngster with a cross-ice pass on a wobbling puck.
Hamhuis scored in the second period with a long shot after a defensive scramble by the Kings. Richards answered 68 seconds later with a goal in front of Luongo, and the veteran goalie’s defence left him helpless again when Williams scored 1:46 after that.
Eddie Lack replaced Luongo, but the Canucks again abandoned defence and gave up a gaping 2-on-1 break to Toffoli and Richards, who exchanged the puck until Toffoli scored his second goal.
NOTES: After playing eight of their last nine at home, the Kings open a four-game trip Tuesday in Buffalo. … Richardson spent the past five seasons in the Kings organization, winning a Stanley Cup ring while playing in 13 games during the 2012 playoffs. The agitating forward signed a two-year deal with Vancouver as a free agent last summer. … Los Angeles native Bryan Cranston visited the Kings’ dressing room after the game.