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Oilers Soothe the Faithful by Beating Kings : This Is No Celebrity Outing; L.A. 0-18-2 Trailing After Two

December 23, 1987|JERRY CROWE | Times Staff Writer

EDMONTON, Canada — The Edmonton Oilers ended a week-long slump Tuesday night, courtesy of the Kings.

The Oilers, who had sent the citizenry of this city into a mild panic by losing twice and tying once in their previous three games, soothed a crowd of 16,717 at Northlands Coliseum with a 5-2 victory over the Kings.

The Kings, who beat the Calgary Flames Sunday night, have won consecutive games only once this season and have won only twice in the last month, so the result really wasn't all that surprising.

But it was the Kings who had sent the Oilers into their funk, beating them last Wednesday night at the Forum.

Grudgingly, the Oilers then bused out to Palm Springs last Thursday for a rain-soaked round of golf, arranged by owner Peter Pocklington, with former President Gerald R. Ford.

By the time they got back to Edmonton, it was 6 a.m. Friday, and they had a game that night against the Winnipeg Jets, whom they tied, 5-5.

The next night, they lost to the Hartford Whalers, 4-3.

"Don't blame the players," Coach Glen Sather said.

Give the Oilers credit, though, for breaking a 2-2 tie late in the second period against the Kings, who have been remarkably consistent in withering away this season when faced with a deficit entering the final 20 minutes.

In games in which they've trailed after two periods, they are 0-18-2.

Presented with that eye-opening statistic, Jimmy Carson said: "That's so bad I can't even fathom it. . . . It seems like we can't come back. Maybe we lose faith."

Actually, they came back in this game, overcoming a 2-0 first-period deficit to tie the game in the second period.

But, after Steve Duchesne scored from the right point to make it 2-2 with 7:35 left in the period, Edmonton goaltender Grant Fuhr turned back everything else the Kings had to offer.

Meanwhile, Marty McSorley scored with 6:44 left in the second period, and Mark Messier and Jari Kurri added third-period goals for the Oilers, enabling Fuhr to improve his record to 19-11-3.

Fuhr, who had started the Oilers' first 33 games before geting a rest last Saturday night, made 29 saves in all, running his career record against the Kings to 20-4-5.

"I thought we had a lot of scoring opportunities," King Coach Robbie Ftorek said. "We just weren't able to put the puck in the net. Fuhr made some nice saves."

The Oilers took a 2-0 lead in the first period, getting an even-strength goal from Esa Tikkanen and a power-play goal from Craig Simpson in a span of 1 minute 49 seconds.

Tikkanen scored from the slot after taking a centering pass from Jari Kurri, who had skated wide to the right side, taking defenseman Jay Wells of the Kings with him and clearing out the middle for Tikkanen.

Then, with Larry Playfair in the penalty box for cross-checking Tikkanen, Glenn Anderson intercepted an errant clearing pass by Ken Hammond and sent the puck to the left side, where Simpson scored from about five feet.

The Kings caught the Oilers in the second period, getting goals just 1:34 apart from Luc Robitaille, who scored on a power play after Mike Allison had won a faceoff with Mike Krushelnyski in the Oilers' zone, and Duchesne.

With Jeff Beukeboom off for hooking Paul Guay, Robitaille netted his 20th goal on a back-handed shot from in front of the net, beating Fuhr to the stick side.

Duchesne, at the right point, appeared to pass to Phil Sykes on his goal, but the puck slid past Sykes, who was charging toward the net, and also eluded Fuhr, winding up in the lower left corner of the net to make it 2-2 with 7:35 left in the period.

The Oilers regained the lead, 3-2, with 5:44 left in the period. McSorley, taking advantage of a screen by Craig MacTavish, scored on a 25-foot shot from outside the right hash mark.

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