NEW YORK — Isn't it always the way? Tourists hit the big city and get their pockets picked. The Kings, typical bumbling out-of-towners adrift in the NHL, were robbed of a victory Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden while 14,587 watched.
That's Coach Pat Quinn's police report on the Kings' 5-4 overtime loss to the New York Rangers. The quick translation: We wuz robbed.
King defenseman Mark Hardy was slapped with a holding penalty that gave New York a power play with 47 seconds remaining in overtime. The Rangers scored 21 seconds later to win.
That holding call riled Quinn and every other King within shouting distance of referee Terry Gregson. Quinn did not argue that it was not holding. Hardy rode down Kelly Miller in rodeo fashion, clearly a penalty. What Quinn disliked was the several times Gregson failed to call alleged Ranger transgressions.
Arguments notwithstanding, it was a win for the Rangers (2-3-2) and a surprising one at that. When the game went into overtime, many Ranger fans scurried for the exits, apparently hoping to catch the last innings of the World Series. They probably knew how horribly the Rangers have played in overtime: only a little worse than they play in regulation.
After Wednesday night's win, the Rangers are 1-12-12 in overtime since overtime periods were enacted. They are still 2-3-2 and at the bottom of the Patrick Division, but New York is regarding this win as a pleasant change.
For the 3-4 Kings--who have had six of seven games this season decided by one goal--close calls have put them in a deep and familiar rut.
"We don't really know how to win," said King forward Bob Bourne, who knows something about winning, having been on four Stanley Cup teams with the Islanders. Two weeks with the Kings and Bourne still can't figure it out.
The Kings show a simple pattern: play well for two periods and blow one; give the puck away and make grade-school mistakes.
"It's tough, we worked hard, we played well," Quinn said. "We gave away a couple of pucks. We find a way to hand them something. We've got to clean up that giving-away stuff. Every game, we have turned over the puck. We make the same mistakes."
For the fifth time this season, the Kings held a 2-0 lead and lost it. They held a 3-1 lead, then a 4-3 lead but began that giving-away stuff.
Goals by Bernie Nicholls and Luc Robitaille gave the Kings a 2-0 lead in the first period. But 17 seconds after the second King goal, Mark Osborne took a pass and shot from the top of the slot to make it 2-1.
That was at 10:07. Robitaille got his second goal of the game, on a power play like the first, to make it 3-1 at 13:11. Bob Brooke then scored for New York when his shot hit goaltender Darren Eliot's skate and rebounded into the net.
"We were a little lax in the first period, but the guys kept coming back," Ranger Coach Ted Sator said. "For us to be effective, we have to bump and grind."
Sator's team is long on the bump, as the second period revealed. It was then that Quinn's complaints became the loudest.
"The kid, (Jimmy) Carson was hauled down in the slot, and it was a scoring chance," Quinn said. "They hauled down (Dave) Taylor in overtime. It's hard to take--penalties shouldn't change. Call them on both ends."
Tomas Sandstrom scored first in the second period to tie it, 3-3. The assist on that goal went to Walt Poddubny, who had four assists in the game. Jay Wells scored next to give the Kings a 4-3 lead going into the third period.
It was in the third period that the Kings began that giving-away stuff. Kjell Samuelsson scored to bring the 4-4 tie and the overtime.
It also brought the holding penalty. With 47 seconds left, Miller was streaking down the right side, Hardy in pursuit. As Miller crossed into the King zone, Hardy grabbed Miller from behind and rode him down.
"I had to make a quick decision, he's a pretty fast guy," Hardy said. "I knew it was going to be a one-on-two. It's too late now to say that they let three or four (holding penalties) go on us for the same deal. I never should have had to put myself in the position where I had to do it."
King Notes Ed Giacomin, the Rangers' goaltending coach, was mugged before the game Wednesday. Giacomin, who was not seriously hurt, was robbed of $140 . . . Ranger goalie John Vanbiesbrouck, whose ability has been a bright spot for New York, is still recovering from a bout with the flu that dropped 10 pounds off his 160-pound frame . . . The Kings play the New Jersey Devils (3-3-0) tonight at the Meadowlands.