LOS ANGELES -- Kings forward Tyler Toffoli has heard the chatter about his lackluster play in a contract season.
A change of position helped get Toffoli on the scoresheet, which pushed his struggling team back into the win column.
Toffoli had a goal and an assist, and Los Angeles ended a four-game losing streak by beating the New York Rangers 3-1 on Tuesday night.
“I know that I need to play better, and I stepped up tonight and thought I had a good night,” Toffoli said.
Dustin Brown also scored, Adrian Kempe added an empty-net goal and the Kings won for the third time in 10 games (3-6-1). Jonathan Quick made 29 saves.
Artemi Panarin scored on a late power play and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23 shots, but the Rangers had their season-high three-game road winning streak snapped.
In an effort not only to get Toffoli on track but create more production from all four lines, Kings coach Todd McLellan moved him to left wing on the fourth line to start off against the Rangers. The change paid off late in the first period, when Brown scored on a sharp-angle shot with 10.1 seconds remaining off Toffoli’s pass from the left circle through the low slot to the right circle that got Lundqvist moving and unable to regain his footing.
Brown ended a six-game goal drought with his seventh of the season, and it was his second point in two games.
Toffoli made it 2-0 at 13:22 of the second. He was able to free himself after battling Ryan Lindgren at the foot of the crease to tap in the rebound of Matt Roy’s shot for his seventh goal. It was Toffoli’s first since scoring twice against Edmonton on Nov. 21, ending a run of nine games without a goal.
“Obviously, took a nice little bounce for me on Roysie’s shot and rolled over his shoulder, and those ones are nice,” Toffoli said. “I’ll take those ones.”
Toffoli eventually was moved back to his more natural right-hand side, helping close out the win and earning praise from McLellan.
“On the left side, he’s in the play a little bit more, a little bit quicker, which was a good thing for him,” McLellan said. “And then down the stretch we promoted him back to his right side, where he could do a lot of good board work, and we saw that. So, should be a real good night for him to put his head on the pillow and feel good about himself and build off of it.”
Panarin scored at 19:30 of the third during a 6-on-4 power play to spare the Rangers from being shut out for the first time this season. Kempe restored the two-goal margin 15 seconds later with his fourth of the season.
Chris Kreider said the Rangers failed to copy what the Kings were doing successfully by putting pucks toward the net and creating traffic in front.
“Whether or not you have a really clean look, if you’re firing stuff there, that’s how you break down the D,” Kreider said. “It’s easy to stay in your structure when guys are playing around the perimeter, and we did a lot of that tonight. Give credit to them because they’re a big, heavy team and play a good defensive game, especially when they got a lead, but we didn’t make it hard enough on them when we had the puck.”
And when the Rangers did have chances, Quick was there to erase them, making spectacular pad saves on Kappo Kakko and Filip Chytil in the second period.
“We know he’s one of the best in the league and he proves it all the time,” Kings forward Austin Wagner said. “You know, tonight is just another example.”
NOTES: Roy had two assists for his first career multipoint game. … Kings D Derek Forbort (back) had a setback during his conditioning assignment in the AHL and there is no timetable for his return, McLellan said. … Los Angeles is 8-0-0 when leading after two periods.
Rangers: At the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
Kings: Visit the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.
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