SAN DIEGO — Rookie center Dan Gratton scored two goals 16 seconds apart in the third period, helping the Kings gain a 6-4 exhibition victory over the U.S. Olympic Team Saturday night at the San Diego Sports Arena.
Gratton deflected a shot by Mark Hardy past Team USA goaltender John Blue and into the net to tie the score at 4-4 with 9:14 remaining.
Off the ensuing face-off, he scored on a breakaway, making a nice move in front of the net and putting the puck past Blue, a Southern Californian, for the game-winner with 8:58 left.
Rookie Bob Kudelski, who got an assist on Gratton's second goal, added an empty-net goal with 1:16 left. Kudelski was cut from the Olympic team last summer.
The news, though, wasn't all good for Gratton, who is battling Brian Wilks for a spot on the Kings' roster.
He was forced to leave the game with 7:48 left after being cut above and below his left eye.
A decidedly pro-Team USA crowd of 10,467 delighted in watching the Olympians make the Kings struggle to end their exhibition season with a five-game unbeaten (4-0-1) streak.
Team USA, which completed a nine-game schedule against National Hockey League teams with a 2-7 record, took a 4-2 lead into the last 11 minutes.
The Olympians also became the first team to score this season against King goaltender Rollie Melanson. In his two previous exhibition appearances, Melanson had not allowed a goal.
When Scott Fusco scored for Team USA at 3:30 of the first period, it was the first goal allowed by Melanson in more than 94 minutes this fall.
The Kings, who open the regular season Thursday night at the Forum against the New York Islanders, ended the exhibition season with a 4-3-1 record.
Team USA is 5-10-2.
Wayne McBean, the Kings' No. 1 draft pick last June, was cut below his right eye and had to be helped off the ice in the first period. The cut required seven stitches and the rookie defenseman, who does not wear a face shield, did not return to the game. . . . Tom Laidlaw also received seven stitches after suffering a cut on his lip, however, he returned o the game. . . . Rollie Melanson's stick was broken in the third period when he dove for the puck and a U.S. player skated into him. Melanson appeared to be shaken up, but remained in the game. . . . Team USA, which will play 59 games in preparation for the Calgary Olympics, will meet the Canadian Olympic team Nov. 28 at the Forum. . . . Kings' Mark Hardy, Joe Paterson and Dave Taylor, along with Winnipeg's George McPhee, will appear in Tuesday night's episode of ABC-TV's "Who's the Boss?" All four play hockey players. . . . Watches for Players of the Game were awarded to the Kings' Dan Gratton and Team USA's John Blue, who is from El Toro. . . . The Kings play their first five games of the regular season at the Forum.