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Ftorek Gets 1st Win as Oilers Fall, 7-5

December 17, 1987|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

It didn't take long for Robbie Ftorek, who replaced the deposed Mike Murphy last week as coach of the Kings, to win over the hometown fans.

Before a crowd of 11,208 in Ftorek's Forum debut Wednesday night, the Kings ended their seven-game losing streak and nine-game winless streak with a 7-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

"For the guys, it's important that we got one," Ftorek said. "They have worked hard in practice, and they've worked hard in games. And I like to see the work pay off."

Mark Hardy scored on a 50-foot slap shot with 5:27 left and Bernie Nicholls added a goal with 53 seconds left for the Kings, who hadn't won since beating the Chicago Blackhawks Nov. 25.

The Kings had been 0-8-1 since and were 0-3 under Ftorek, who formerly coached their American Hockey League affiliate at New Haven, Conn.

For the Oilers, the loss ended a five-game winning streak.

The Stanley Cup champions hadn't lost to the Kings with Grant Fuhr in goal since March 17, 1985, when the Kings scored a 5-4 victory at the Forum. Fuhr, who faced 34 shots, had been 10-0-2 against Los Angeles since then. He was seeking his 20th career victory against the Kings, but is now 19-4-5.

"They played a good, strong game," the Oilers' Wayne Gretzky said of the Kings. "(But) We got ourselves in trouble with a lot of penalties. We dug ourselves our own hole."

The Kings, who had failed to score in five power-play opportunities Saturday night during a 3-2 loss at Hartford, were 0 for 7 in manpower advantages before Hardy scored the game-winning goal.

The Oilers were called for five penalties in less than five minutes of the last 10:22.

Before the game, owner Jerry Buss, discussing last week's coaching change, said: "I personally think we're going to beat Edmonton tonight. I feel very confident. I don't know how to justify it, but I really think Robbie Ftorek is the man for the job and I think he has a rendezvous with destiny."

Ftorek's destiny on this night was to be awarded the game puck afterward by goaltender Glenn Healy, who faced 26 shots while picking up the win.

"It couldn't be a better way to stop the streak," Healy said. "You never forget how to win."

Jim Fox, who later added two assists, scored two early goals for the Kings. They then broke a 2-2 tie midway in the second period, getting goals from Bob Carpenter and Luc Robitaille in a span of 53 seconds.

Carpenter retrieved a shot by Fox that had caromed off the end board, firing a shot from the left circle that appeared to hit Fuhr in the shoulder, rolling off the Oiler goaltender and settling in the net.

Less than a minute later, Robitaille chased down a rebound and skated behind the Oilers' net to the right side, where he beat Fuhr to the short side for his 18th goal of the season.

The Kings took their 4-2 lead into the third period, only to have the Oilers score three times in 3:27 to take a 5-4 lead.

Steve Smith scored a power-play goal on a screen shot with 17:18 left, and Craig Simpson, acquired by the Oilers in the trade last month that sent All-Star defenseman Paul Coffey to Pittsburgh, scored his second goal on a backhander from in front with 16:17 left.

Gretzky, held without a shot on goal when the Oilers and Kings played to a 4-4 tie Nov. 10 at the Forum, gave the Oilers a 5-4 lead with 13:51 left, blowing past Grant Ledyard along the right side and skating in uncontested to lift a shot over Healy.

At that point, a group of fans behind the Kings' net, no doubt fearing the worst, unfurled a banner that read: "Hey, Bo, Can You Skate?"

Ftorek called a timeout.

"It's something you don't like to do," Ftorek said, "but sometimes you have to do it. It was time to regroup. The guys took it by the horns and straightened things out."

Mike Allison, making his debut after being acquired in a trade Monday with the Toronto Maple Leafs, pulled the Kings even only 30 seconds later, beating Fuhr with a shot from the right circle.

Allison took the puck down the right side and, with Oiler defenseman Craig Muni almost on top of him, fired a 35-shot for his first goal of the season.

King Notes

General Manager Rogie Vachon, on the plight of the Kings: "Being in last place is the fault of the organization, and I'm in charge of the organization." . . . Dean Kennedy was scratched for the seventh straight game. . . . Phil Sykes, who has been out almost two months with a partially torn groin muscle, skated on his own while the Kings were on the road and may be able to play Saturday night at the Forum against the Calgary Flames. . . . Bob Bourne left the game in the second period with what was later diagnosed as a knee strain and did not return. . . . Jimmy Carson hasn't scored a goal in the Kings' last six games. . . . The Kings will play host to a "Toys for Tots" drive before Saturday night's game. Those attending the game are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys valued at more than $5, which will be distributed among underprivileged children.

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