|Matthews-led Leafs open homestand vs. Kings|
TORONTO -- When Auston Matthews scored late in the third period Saturday night in the 4-2 victory over the Washington Capitals, the Toronto Maple Leafs center joined some elite company.
In scoring Toronto's final goal of the season, Matthews notched his league-leading 10th after six games.
He is the fifth player in the modern era (since 1943-44) to reach at least 10 goals in his team's first 20 games of the season. The others were Bobby Hull, 1965-66 (Chicago Blackhawks), Mike Bossy, 1984-85 (New York Islanders), Dino Ciccarelli, 1986-87 (Minnesota North Stars) and Mario Lemieux, 1988-89 (Pittsburgh Penguins).
The Maple Leafs (5-1-0) won all four games on their road trip and will open a three-game homestand Monday night with a game against the Los Angeles Kings (2-2-1), who lost 5-1 to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
Another important aspect for the Maple Leafs in their win over last season's Stanley Cup champions was that they had scoring from players like Josh Leivo (first of the season) and Par Lindholm (first of his NHL career) and Kasperi Kapanen (second of the season).
"I think you have to have that," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "Obviously, it's great that our big guys got off to a good start because I think having them feeling good is so important. In saying that, part of the reason we're going to have success is we have real good depth."
The Kings, meanwhile, will be trying to return to the standard of Thursday when Jack Campbell stopped 40 shots to earn his first career NHL shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Canadiens in Montreal.
Jeff Carter had a goal and two assists in that game, his first points of the season.
It was different in Ottawa. The defense broke down and the power play continued to sputter.
"We've definitely got to clean some things up," center Trevor Lewis, who scored the Kings' goal on Saturday, told the Los Angeles Times. "I think first and foremost it starts with our compete, right off the bat. We've got a good veteran group, so we'll be better."
Campbell allowed four goals on 11 shots before being replaced by Peter Budaj against the Senators.
"We've got to do a lot better job of not making (Campbell) face those types of quality chances, especially on the road in a big game," Kings coach John Stevens said. "You regroup and you go again. I didn't like the way those goals were scored. The pucks that we turned over that end up in the back of the net -- we had bodies around our net that had position on us, and we had pucks on top that got through to the net. Those are all, to me, mental things that you can make a difference in if manage them in the right place."
The Kings' power play remains 0-for-18 for the season despite adding Ilya Kovalchuk.
"I thought we got some momentum, but you've got to score goals," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "But I think we took a step in the right direction."
There is not much wrong with Toronto's power play, which is 8-for-17 on the season. Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly has six assists in man-advantage situations.
Rielly earned his 10th assist overall of the season Saturday on Matthews' third-period goal. Rielly also has three goals and has had at least one point in six consecutive games. He is the third defenseman in NHL history to record at least 13 points in his team's first six games of the season. The others were Harry Cameron with the 1917-18 Toronto Arenas (nine goals and six assists) and Paul Reinhart of the 1989-90 Vancouver Canucks (five goals, nine assists).
The Maple Leafs will try to keep their early-season success going, but also know that the Kings will be determined to make up for their loss Saturday.
"Obviously, L.A. will be ready to go, and we'll have to get prepared," Babcock said after the game in Washington. "We feel good, we'll feel good on the way home and it's nice to have an off-day (Sunday) after a win, but we've got to get back at 'er."