Southern California was anything but a pleasant experience for the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs. A move up north to face the red-hot San Jose Sharks doesn't figure to offer much of a break, either.
The Maple Leafs try to avoid a season-high fifth straight loss Saturday night when they visit the Sharks for the first time in over four years.
If the Maple Leafs (16-20-8) thought getting away from hockey-mad Toronto would help get them out of their slump, that has not been the case.
On the first two stops on their three-game road trip, the Leafs have been outscored 10-2. They lost 5-2 Thursday to a Los Angeles Kings team that owns the league's worst record and was coming off a 7-0 defeat to Nashville in their previous game.
Nik Antropov and Darcy Tucker had goals for Toronto, which has been outscored 19-6 during a season high-tying four-game skid. The Maple Leafs have been held to fewer than three goals 10 times in their last 12 games, and are 2-8-2 during that stretch.
"It's a frustrating time, but we can't get too down on ourselves or irritated or frustrated," center Alex Steen said. "We need to keep our heads up and our spirits up and make sure we turn this around. We've still got half a season to go here."
The current skid started with a 3-2 home loss to Philadelphia during which Toronto registered 56 shots. After falling behind 4-0 in the first period Thursday, the Leafs outshot the Kings 44-13 over the final 40 minutes.
Captain Mats Sundin was held without a point despite a career high-tying 11 shots.
"We're shooting pucks," Steen said. "That Philly game, I thought we were shooting a lot from the perimeter and weren't getting enough bodies in front of the net. Tonight we did, but we still couldn't find a way to get it by their goalie."
Andrew Raycroft was ineffective again, giving up four goals on 11 shots in the first period. He was replaced at the start of the second by Vesa Toskala, who lost 5-0 at Anaheim on Wednesday in his first game back from a groin injury.
Toronto coach Paul Maurice didn't want to use Toskala on back-to-back nights, but Raycroft hasn't been a reliable option lately, going 0-6-2 with a 5.12 goals-against average in his last eight starts.
The only thing holding the Sharks (24-12-6) back this season has been poor play at home. A league-best 16-3-2 on the road, San Jose improved to 2-0-1 in its last three at HP Pavilion with a 3-1 victory over Vancouver on Thursday.
Jeremy Roenick and Milan Michalek scored power-play goals, and Evgeni Nabokov bested Roberto Luongo again, as San Jose improved to 6-0-1 in its last seven overall contests.
Nabokov, who has started all 42 games this season, leads the NHL in wins (24) and ranks third in GAA (1.99).
"It's a new year, and as long as we keep getting wins, it doesn't really matter where we get them," center Joe Thornton said. "I think we can improve the home record significantly. ... We go as Nabby goes. He's a big part of this team, and we really needed him tonight."
Thornton had three assists to avoid his first three-game scoring drought since Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2006.
This is Toronto's first visit to San Jose since the teams played to a 2-2 tie on Nov. 15, 2003.