Gabriel Vilardi scored for the third straight game to help the Los Angeles Kings win 4-2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Crypto.com Arena on Saturday.
Vilardi has four points (three goals, one assists) in his past three games. He leads the Kings in points (11) and goals (seven).
“I don’t think there’s a more confident guy around here,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “Listen, it’s great to see. Obviously, he’s had a couple tough years, a couple uncertain years, so the fact that he’s gotten off to a start that he is, it’s great for us, it’s great for him and we’re gonna need him to compete.”
Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist, and Cal Petersen made 26 saves for the Kings (5-5-0), who went 2-1-0 on their three-game homestead.
“We’ve done this a couple times this season where we get back to what we need to do,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. “Now the consistency thing is something that we need to grow.”
John Tavares scored on the power play to extend his point streak to four games for the Maple Leafs (4-4-1), who are 0-2-1 in their past three games. Ilya Samsonov allowed four goals on 29 shots.
“We lost confidence a little bit the last three games. We need to [get it] back,” Samsonov said.
Asked why the team has lost confidence, Samsonov said: “Hard to say, but whenever you’ve lost three games in a row, for sure your confidence will be lowered. You don’t have more smiles.”
After falling behind 1-0 at 10:45 of the first period on Tavares’ fourth goal, the Kings scored two power-play goals in the second period to take the lead.
Adrian Kempe tied it 1-1 at 3:03 on a one-timer from the right circle off a pass from Fiala. It was Kempe’s sixth goal of the season and first on the power play.
Viktor Arvidsson made it 2-1 at 9:03. Phillip Danault stole the puck in the neutral zone to end a rush to give Los Angeles numbers going the other way before finding Arvidsson in the left circle for a one-timer.
The Kings were 2-for-6 on the power play, scoring multiple goals with the man-advantage for the second time this season. Toronto was 1-for-4 with the man-advantage.
“Obviously, special teams are huge always, and the fact that we were able to come on top of that is big, especially against this team,” Kopitar said.
Vilardi extended the lead to 3-1 at 14:40, chipping in a one-timer from the left circle.
Pierre Engvall cut it to 3-2 at 16:58, but Fiala put the Kings back in front 4-2 at 2:11 of the third period, taking the puck from Rasmus Sandin in the neutral zone and scoring on a breakaway.
“We didn’t get off to a great start last year,” said Tavares, who has five points (three goals, two assists) during his streak. “It’s not what we were looking for this year. You obviously want to get off to a good start, and you play to win every game. Every game we’ve had a chance to win. Have we played to our capabilities yet? I don’t believe so, so we’re going to stay with it, keep working.”