LOS ANGELES—Alec Martinez could do no wrong when he was called up by the Kings just before Thanksgiving. He scored his first NHL goal the next day and drew wide praise from coach Terry Murray in the weeks ahead.
But the 23-year-old defenseman was victimized for the second time in a week with the score tied early in the third period. His turnover at his own blue line Monday night was cashed in by the opportunistic Maple Leafs, the final goal in their 3-2 victory at Staples Center.
The loss dropped the Kings out of the top eight in the Western Conference—again—and sent their record to 1-5 on the current eight-game home stand.
The winning goal was set in motion when Martinez was stripped of the puck at his own blue line, creating a 3-on-3 situation. Mikhail Grabovski took a shot that was deflected wide to Nikolai Kulemin, who beat goalie Jonathan Quick with 15 minutes 2 seconds remaining in the game.
A week earlier against Chicago, Martinez also had a costly turnover in his own zone early in the third period, leading to a tie-breaking goal in the 4-3 loss.
Martinez was also burnt for the first goal by the Maple Leafs, as fellow rookie Darryl Boyce shot the puck through Martinez’s legs and into the net to tie the score, 1-1, early in the second period.
The timing of the final goal was especially bad because the Kings were on the verge of a power play just over two minutes earlier. Toronto center Tim Brent kneed Jarret Stoll as they crossed paths in the neutral zone, sprawling Stoll on the ice. Marco Sturm, who’s not known for dropping the gloves, came to Stoll’s defense and a minor scrap broke out.
Sturm received a two-minute instigating penalty to wipe out Brent’s kneeing penalty, but was also hit with a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
The loss was made more painful because the Kings could not score with a 6-on-4 advantage the final 1:42. Dion Phaneuf was called for slashing and the Kings pulled Quick, but they could not find a way to get the puck past 22-year-old rookie goalie James Reimer.
More to come from the locker room.