Kings, Leafs in middle of tight playoff races

The Los Angeles Kings handed the Toronto Maple Leafs their worst loss of the season on Nov. 8, but two key figures in the 7-0 victory won't be at Staples Center when the teams meet again Thursday night.

Goaltender Peter Budaj, who had 19 saves in the shutout for the Kings, was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday for goalie Ben Bishop, and left winger Dwight King, who scored a goal in the November win, was traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday for a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2018.

In a separate trade Wednesday, the Kings acquired 39-year-old forward Jarome Iginla from the Colorado Avalanche for the same conditional draft pick acquired from the Canadiens. Iginla, who has 16 goals and 21 assists in 44 career games against Toronto, is expected to make his Los Angeles debut Thursday.

The Kings, winners of two of the last five Stanley Cup championships, enter Thursday a point behind the St. Louis Blues for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"We're trying to bridge a gap here," Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said in a conference call following Wednesday's trades. "You're caught between buyer/seller mentality, and we weren't going to be able to sign (pending UFA) Dwight King with what he was looking at, and we have to replenish our reserve list."

Bishop started his first game for the Kings on Tuesday at the Calgary Flames and stopped 30 shots before Calgary scored the game-winner in the 2-1 overtime victory, the second straight overtime loss for Los Angeles.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick figures to start against the Maple Leafs, his third since missing 60 games with a groin injury. Quick, the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, allowed all five goals in a 5-4 loss at the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

The Maple Leafs have lost three in a row, but managed to earn points in four of the last five games. They're coming off a 3-1 loss Tuesday at the San Jose Sharks. Toronto rookie Auston Matthews scored his 31st goal of the season for the Maple Leafs, keeping him on pace to break Wendel Clark's franchise rookie record of 34 goals during the 1985-86 season.

Toronto heads into Thursday holding a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs made a trade with Tampa Bay on Monday, acquiring forward Brian Boyle in exchange for forward Byron Froese and a conditional 2017 second-round draft pick. Boyle made his team debut Tuesday against the Sharks, playing 12:33 and totaling one shot on goal and one blocked shot.

"(Boyle) has been in a lot of big games down the stretch at playoff time and, when you look around the room, we don't have that," Toronto coach Mike Babcock told the National Post. "We felt that was important. We feel we have a lot of young people who can learn a lot from good pros. We need some of that here."

Kings forward Jeff Carter, who scored two goals in the 7-0 victory against Toronto earlier this season, has three goals and six assists in his past nine games. He scored his 30th of the season in a 4-1 victory Saturday afternoon against the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
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