Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock announced Sparks as the game’s starter ahead of No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen after the morning skate. Toronto then announced about 2 1/2 hours before puck drop that Andersen has a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day, with Eamon McAdam getting recalled from Newfoundland of the ECHL on an emergency basis.
McAdam got the promotion after the Maple Leafs lost both Curtis McElhinney and Calvin Pickard to the waiver wire right before the season, while Kasimir Kaskisuo of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies was injured during the weekend. Jeff Glass, Kaskisuo’s backup with the Marlies, is on an AHL-only contract.
The Maple Leafs were back home after a perfect 4-0-0 road trip where they outscored their opponents 23-15, including a 4-2 victory over defending Stanley Cup champion Washington on Saturday.
Toronto got on the scoreboard just 46 seconds in against the Kings when Kapanen banked a shot off Campbell from behind the net for his third goal of the season. The play started with Matthews fighting off Kings defenseman Drew Doughty before finding Gardiner at the point.
Matthews, who had Kapanen moved to his line in a wild 7-6 overtime victory at Chicago to open Toronto’s recent road trip, has at least two points in every game so far this season and leads the NHL with 16 (10 goals, six assists).
Kapanen, meanwhile, has all eight of his points (four goals, four assists) since moving into Toronto’s top-6 alongside Matthews and Marleau in a spot originally pegged for William Nylander, who remains in Sweden as his contract impasse drags on.
The Kings, coming off a 5-1 loss at Ottawa on Saturday, nearly tied it moments later, but Tyler Toffoli’s shot pinged off the post and stayed out.
The Leafs made it 2-0 with 20.5 seconds left in the first on their second power play of the period when Marleau was given far too much time and space at the side of Campbell’s net before sliding his first in off Doughty.
The Kings cut the deficit in half at 3:38 of the second when Matthews mishandled a puck in front his own net before Alex Iafallo fed Kovalchuk, who beat Sparks between the pads for his second. The goal for the 35-year-old Kovalchuk, who spent the last five seasons playing at home in Russia’s KHL, was his first against Toronto since Dec. 6, 2011, when he was with New Jersey.
The Leafs regained a two-goal lead at 8:28. Zach Hyman stepped around Doughty before absorbing an attempted sandwich hit by the defenseman and Dion Phaneuf, leaving the puck for John Tavares to find a wide-open Marner at the side of the net to tap in his third goal and 11th point.
Tavares also now has 11 points, while Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly, who was held off the scoresheet Monday, has 13.
Sparks, who gave up six goals in that wild overtime victory against Chicago in his only other start of the season, made a nice blocker stop on Toffoli right before Marner’s goal. He then stopped Jeff Carter on the second of two Kings’ power plays — dropping Los Angeles to 0 for 21 on the season.
Toronto capped the scoring at 7:45 of the third when Matthews fed Kapanen on a 2-on-1 rush and he beat Campbell, who made his fifth straight start in place of the injured Jonathan Quick, on a backhand upstairs for his fourth.
NOTES: Quick is out with a lower-body injury. … Sparks, who spent the last two seasons in the AHL, made a home start for Toronto for the first time since April 6, 2016.
Kings: Host the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Maple Leafs: Host Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Source: Fox Sports