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Kings Lose Third in Row and Leave Town : They Finally Score Power-Play Goal, but It Isn't Enough in 4-2 Defeat

October 19, 1987|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

On their way out of town for their longest trip of the season, the Kings stopped by the Forum long enough Sunday night to lose to the Vancouver Canucks, which has become somewhat of a regular occurrence in recent seasons.

The Kings finally scored a power-play goal, their first in three games, but that wasn't enough to prevent a 4-2 loss before a crowd of 8,367.

They failed to score on eight other opportunities, which contributed mightily to their third straight loss.

"Our power play doesn't seem to be sharp, doesn't seem to be crisp," said King Coach Mike Murphy, whose team has scored only 3 power-play goals in 35 opportunities this season. "I don't know why. We've spent a great deal of time on it."

Murphy said his power-play unit may be pressing in an attempt to improve on its much-discussed lack of productivity.

"The guys know," he said. "They read the press."

Although it was only the fifth of 80 games, the Kings considered this a big one, coming as it did at the end of a disappointing, season-opening five-game home stand and before a seven-game trip that starts Wednesday at Edmonton.

The Kings are 1-4.

"I thought we were on the road to a quick start this year," Murphy said.

Instead, they are on the road, period. On a similar trip last fall, the Kings were 0-6-1.

But Murphy said the Kings, who returned from their training camp in Victoria, Canada more than three weeks ago, may have been home too long. The distractions of being home may have caused them to become unfocused, he said.

"They're not following our game plan from the start," he said of the players. "That's a discipline problem. They're not doing things we ask them to. I'm not sure home ice is that big an advantage. I think we'll play better on the road. We're going to have to."

They're definitely going to have to play better than they have in recent years against the Canucks.

Vancouver has had 11 straight losing seasons but has made the playoffs four times in the last six seasons by being as bad as the Kings.

Last season, the Canucks won only 29 games--only Buffalo won fewer--but 5 of their victories were against the Kings, who have won only 4 of their last 17 games against the Canucks.

And of the Canucks' six victories away from home last season, two were at the Forum.

So, it wasn't surprising when they opened a 1-0 lead on a wrist shot from the top of the slot by Barry Pederson just 4 minutes 53 seconds into the game and used their grabbing, clutching style to maintain their advantage the rest of the way.

"The Canucks play us hard," Murphy said. "They are confident in their game against us. They do a lot of holding away from the puck."

Luc Robitaille ended the Kings' power-play drought with 9:01 left in the first period, knocking past Vancouver's rookie goalie, Kirk McLean, a rebound of a shot from the slot by defenseman Steve Duchesne for his first goal of the season.

The Kings had failed to score on 20 straight power-play opportunities since the third period of a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 10, going 0 for 9 against the Edmonton Oilers and 0 for 7 against the Boston Bruins, then failing to capitalize on their first four chances against the Canucks.

Vancouver, though, killed three more penalties before the end of the period, including a two-man disadvantage for 1:12, and took a 2-1 lead into the final period despite being outshot in the second period, 12-5.

The Canucks opened a 3-1 lead just 45 seconds into the third period when Tony Tanti beat King goaltender Rollie Melanson to the glove side with a 20-foot wrist shot from the left circle.

Later in the period, Tanti set up Pederson's second goal of the game, making a centering pass from the left circle that was deflected by Melanson to Pederson, who put the puck into the net.

A goal by Sean McKenna, who scored from the right circle after taking a pass from behind the net by Tim Tookey, cut the Kings' deficit to 4-2 with 6:04 to play.

King Notes Vancouver's Craig Coxe, suspended for the first three games of the season after leaving the penalty box to go after the Kings' Joe Paterson in an exhibition game last month, was involved in a fight with Paterson less than five minutes into the game. Both were assessed 5-minute penalties for fighting and 10-minute misconduct penalties. . . . Luc Robitaille skated on a line with Bobby Carpenter and Jim Fox. He was replaced on the Jimmy Carson-Dave Taylor line by rookie Craig Duncanson. . . . Defenseman Tom Laidlaw missed his second straight game after straining a ligament in his right knee last week

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