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Maple Leafs' Offense Has Biggest Game Yet in Win Over Kings

The Toronto Maple Leafs have won 12 of their last 14 games after coming alive offensively in a 6-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Offense is the identity of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It had been repeated by head coach Sheldon Keefe several during the season.

On Wednesday night, the identity came to life with a season-best four-goal second period to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 6-2 at Staples Center.

The offense was spread around. Auston Matthews scored a 5-on-5 goal for the first time in 11 games. John Tavares also scored. Alex Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, Michael Bunting and Jason Spezza provided the rest of the goals as the team shared the wealth.

So what was different this time around?

"I thought we did some good things in terms of how we want to attack the net, increase our volume a little bit, Keefe said. "I don't know if we did anything a whole lot different than what we've been doing in other games. But it was certainly nice to see it going (in)."

Before the game, the Leafs were near the bottom of the league in goals for per game (2.25). It was especially troubling since the team had been near the top of every analytical category of offence including Corsi (third) and expected goals (first). 

So perhaps Wednesday night's contest was just a reversion to the mean, a concept that generally states that the law of averages will win out over a longer sample size. 

"We just kind of stayed patient the whole night and when the opportunities presented themselves guys made played and [we were] able to capitalize," Matthews said.

Spezza's power-play goal was the highlight of the scoring. Known for how much he works on his stick and his shot, he picked the corner past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick to round out the four-goal second period for Toronto. 

The team worked on their offense at practice on Tuesday and despite bounces going in, there were some things within their possession game that led to some sort of explanation for why the team hadn't been scoring.

Without revealing details, Spezza said the team worked on bringing more volume to the net.

"Just different concepts of how to kind of get sticks open and kind of becoming downhill on the puck," Spezza said.

Whatever the details were within that description, some of it appeared to pay off. And the offense came at a time when their best defensive forward suffered an injury in the first period and had to leave the game.

David Kampf was hit in the head by Rasmus Kupari of the Kings at 1:35 of the first period. The team said Kampf will be re-evaluated on Thursday and was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons.

"It looked to me like direct contact to his head, obviously. So, I hate to see that," Keefe said of the hit. "I don't know how much intent was there. It looked pretty accidental to me."

If Kampf misses any time, it could fundamentally change how Keefe deploys his team. 

The coach credited Kampf's defensive ability as a way to spread the minutes around and give his top two centers a break against tougher line matchups. It has resulted in lesser minutes on average from the Matthews and Tavares lines.

"He's been unbelievable for us all year long," Matthews said of Kampf. "Being able to play against some of the top guys, producing some big plays that led to some big goals. 

"Fingers crossed that it's nothing serious and he's alright but he's been a key part to our successes here."

But the team rallied quickly after the injury to Kampf. The club has now won 12 out of their last 14 games. A quick change from the doom-and-gloom that was around the team following an early-season four-game losing streak.

"When you're winning, you really want to try to keep it going because it's hard when you lose a few to kind of get back in the win column and we know that, we've been there already this year, Spezza said. "So we just want to keep the positivity rolling and keep focused.



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