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Kings Widen Search--No Sign of Offense in 4-1 Loss to Flyers

November 02, 1987|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA — Even when the Philadelphia Flyers are struggling, as they have been this season, this is no place for a team to find its offense.

The Kings found that out again Sunday night at the Spectrum, where the Flyers ended a five-game winless streak with a 4-1 victory before a crowd of 17,314.

The Kings, who ended their longest trip of the season with a 2-4-1 record, have scored two goals in their last two games and a league-low 28 in 12.

They have scored two goals or less eight times.

"It's a big problem for us," said Coach Mike Murphy, who tried a variety of combinations in an effort to shake the Kings out of their slump. "I was looking for something that would possibly make something happen for us, but nothing was happening.

"It's got me concerned."

The lack of punch was especially frustrating to the Kings because the Flyers seemed to be vulnerable.

Without injured right wing Tim Kerr, who established a National Hockey League record two seasons ago with 34 power-play goals and led the NHL again last season with 26, the Flyers' power play has been abysmal.

They ranked last in the NHL in power-play efficiency before the game, hadn't scored in their last 31 chances, then failed to score in six more opportunities against the Kings.

And with a 3-6-2 record, the three-time defending Patrick Division champions were in last place.

But the Flyers scored their first two goals on mistakes by King goaltender Rollie Melanson and played what Flyer goaltender Ron Hextall called their best defensive game of the season to win for the first time in two weeks.

Dave Brown, who is expected to be suspended today for his high-sticking last Monday of the New York Rangers' Tomas Sandstrom, gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the first period when he scored on a 60-foot slap shot that Melanson said sailed on him.

Melanson said he leaned low to his glove side, only to have the puck jump past him on the other side.

"I don't know if it caught a rut in the ice or what," he said. "All I could do was wave at it."

After a scoreless second period, the Flyers made it 2-0 with 17:33 left on a goal by Murray Craven, who chased down an errant clearing pass by Wayne McBean, beating Melanson to the puck in the left circle and flicking it past him.

"I have to fault myself on that one, too," Melanson said. "I saw the puck coming and I looked up to see who I could give it to and all of a sudden it stopped on me. I was caught in no man's land. I couldn't do anything out there."

Dave Taylor ended Hextall's shutout and cut the lead to 2-1 when he scored off a rebound with 16:02 left, but the Kings were through for the night offensively after that.

They went scoreless on the power play for the third straight game, going 0 for 4. They haven't scored on their last 14 power-play opportunities.

Any chance they had of making up the deficit seemed to end with 11 minutes left when Craven's shot from the top of the left circle ricocheted off teammate Brian Propp, who crossed in front of the net, and through Melanson's legs.

Sean McKenna of the Kings, who was covering Propp, said the puck actually caromed off his stick, but Propp was credited with his 300th career goal.

"I really thought we could tie it but that goal killed us," said the Kings' Jimmy Carson.

Actually, it's a lack of offense that is killing the Kings.

Hextall stopped 28 shots in picking up his first win since returning from an eight-game suspension imposed for slashing the Edmonton Oilers' Kent Nilsson during the Stanley Cup finals last May, but "I don't think he was tested that much," Carson said.

Said Murphy: "I think if we had got the right goal at the right time, we would have won the game."

But for the Kings, who obviously miss injured center Bernie Nicholls, who is out with a broken finger, goals of any kind have been few and far between.

"When Bernie comes back, he's definitely going to help the offense but we can't just lie down until he comes back," Carson said.

King Notes

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