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Kings Fade at the End and Lose, 6-2 : Edmonton Scores 3 Goals in Final 16 Minutes 35 Seconds

October 22, 1987|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

EDMONTON, Canada — The operators of the public-address system at the Northlands Coliseum Wednesday night were a bit premature when they played "Wipeout" in the first period.

It wasn't until the third period that the Edmonton Oilers pulled away from the Kings for a 6-2 victory before a crowd of 15,841, the Oilers' smallest home crowd since the seating capacity was expanded six years ago.

Presumably, those who stayed away have noticed the plight this season of the Kings, who have scored only 13 goals in 6 games and are 1-5 after their fourth straight loss.

They were outscored, 3-0, in the last 16 minutes 35 seconds.

"We made mistakes that I guess you expect from a 1-5 team," Coach Mike Murphy said. "The effort was there, but we gave up goals that were far too easy for the opposition to score.

"They didn't pay any price to score them, and I think that's a weakness we've got to recognize and change."

Particularly galling to Murphy were the Oilers' fourth and sixth goals.

The Kings trailed, 3-2, early in the third period, when Edmonton's Jeff Beukeboom slapped a wild shot from the right circle that caromed perfectly off the backboard to Wayne Gretzky, who was standing alone in front of the net.

King goaltender Glenn Healy had moved outside the crease and stood helplessly as the puck bounced behind him.

With Healy hopelessly out of position, Gretzky tapped the puck into the net for his second goal.

"We had three people standing within a blanket's throw of him," Murphy said of Gretzky. "We've got to have our players looking around and being conscious of dangerous people. That's just basic, fundamental hockey."

Later in the period, during a King power play, Mark Messier stole the puck from Steve Duchesne at center ice, streaked toward the net and easily scored a short-handed goal, putting the Oilers ahead, 6-2, with 4:26 left.

"We were brain-dead in some individual situations," Murphy said, "and we can't ever be brain-dead. We've got to be alert out there."

Outside of a few obviously key situations, though, Murphy thought the Kings played fairly well overall.

They outshot the Oilers, 27-19, but Edmonton scored on 3 of its first 5 shots and 6 of its first 16.

"I don't think it's the shots that are important," Murphy said. "It's your quality chances that are important. And, obviously, we gave up too many quality chances.

"They're a team you've got to restrict the chances against, and if you do, you have a chance to beat them. But when they get the chances. . . . It doesn't take a lot of time studying the stats to see they have people who can put the puck into the net."

It took determined individual efforts by Gretzky and Kevin McClelland to give Edmonton, which managed only 4 shots on goal in the first period, a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.

McClelland, driving toward the net through the slot, was almost knocked off his feet by King defenseman Jay Wells, but managed to retain his balance and rifle a shot just inside the right post to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead just 4 minutes 3 seconds into the game.

With 1:25 left in the period, Gretzky made a brilliant move just outside the right circle, stopping suddenly as a defender skated past him, then moving into the slot to wrist a 20-foot shot past Healy.

At 3:42 of the second period, Luc Robitaille scored his second power-play goal in two games for the Kings, taking a pass from Dave Taylor just outside the crease and knocking the puck into the net to cut the Oiler advantage to 2-1.

Edmonton increased its lead less than two minutes later on a power-play goal by Glenn Anderson, who took a pretty pass from Gretzky and scored from just outside the crease.

Jimmy Carson's fifth goal of the season, scored on a shot from the right circle on a breakaway, pulled the Kings to 3-2 with 12:26 left in the second period.

King Notes

Wayne Gretzky scored two goals and assisted on another. In 57 career games against the Kings, he has 55 goals and 105 assists. . . . Edmonton goaltender Grant Fuhr stopped 25 shots, improving his career record against the Kings to 19-3-4, and also added his second assist of the season against the Kings. Somebody suggested that he owns the Kings. "Yeah," he said, "the goal average goes down and the points come up." . . . The Kings continued to struggle on the power play, scoring once in five chances. For the season, they're 5 for 40. . . . The names of three Kings--defenseman Steve Duchesne, injured center Bernie Nicholls and left wing Luc Robitaille--appear on the ballot for the NHL All-Star Game, which will be played Feb. 9 at St. Louis. . . . The Kings, whose 10-19-3 intra-division record last season was the worst in the Smythe Division, are 0-3 against division opponents.

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