Kings center Jarret Stoll skated hard for about an hour at practice Saturday morning, trying to rush back from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him a week. But given the way his replacements played in his absence Saturday night, Stoll might as well take his time.
Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli, minor league linemates called up Nov. 2 following injuries to Stoll and forward Jeff Carter, combined for two goals and two assists to spark the Kings to a surprisingly easy 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
“I think they want to come back as soon as they can so I don’t think they’re going to be taking their time,” Toffoli said of Stoll and Carter. “But as long as we keep winning and then get them back healthy, we’ll keep rolling.”
The win was the fifth in the last six games for the Kings at the Staples Center and 10th in 14 games overall. And it came at the expense of Roberto Luongo, Canada’s probable starter in goal in February’s Olympic Games, who left midway through the second period after giving up four goals in a game for the fourth time this season.
Vey helped get the scoring started at 12:23 of the first period when he weaved his way through the Canucks defense, guiding the puck from center ice deep into the Vancouver end before centering it to Jordan Nolan, who beat Luongo with a wrist shot. The assist was the first of the rookie’s NHL career.
“It was just an awesome rush," Vey said. "The guy challenged me and I was able to get by him and pass to Nolie and he had a good finish on the play.
"Every shift, every game I feel a lot better.”
Toffoli, who has at least one point in all three games he’s played, made it 2-0 seconds before the intermission, tipping in a perfect cross-crease pass from Drew Doughty at the left post.
Toffoli, who played 10 games for the Kings last year –- scoring two goals and picking up three assists –- was among the final roster cuts in training camp this fall, which only fueled his desire to make a statement when he was recalled last week.
“You don’t want to be playing American League hockey. You want to be playing in the NHL,” he said. “So that was definitely hard. But I went down there, took a little time to adjust, and just started heating up again.”
Vey said he and Toffoli, who are roommates as well as good friends, had hoped to provide more than just a little ice time when they arrived from the minors. They were hoping to provide a bit of a spark as well.
“I think that’s your job. You come up, you’ve got to bring something to the table,” he said. “Tof and I bring a little bit of energy and a little bit of excitement.
“Obviously we’re new to the league so we’ve got a lot of excitement coming into the game.”
Midway through the second period Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis halved the lead, scoring cleanly on a slap shot from the high slot. But it took the Kings only 68 seconds to match that, with Dwight King digging the puck out from behind the Vancouver net and finding Mike Richards at the right post for his fifth goal of the year.
That was the first of three scores in a 2 1/2-minute span for the Kings, the second coming from Justin Williams and the third from Toffoli, who also had an assist on the Richards’ goal, giving him a career-best three points.
“Both of them showed their offensive composure and ability to handle pucks under pressure,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said of Toffoli and Vey afterward. “Tyler's a shooter and Lindy's a playmaker and Lindy made a good play on Jordy's goal.
“And Tyler, him and Mike, that line was really good.”
Anze Kopitar, whose goal-scoring streak was snapped at three games, had an assist to give him 12 points in his last nine games while Richards had two assists to go along with his goal.
But the win could prove costly to the Kings, who lost another forward when Kyle Clifford failed to return to the ice after sustained a head injury in the first period. The seriousness of the injury wasn’t known Saturday.
Times staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this story.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun