Lou Nanne resigned Thursday as general manager of the Minnesota North Stars, saying he knew it was time to get out when he awoke from a dream in which he had traded one of the North Stars' leading scorers, Brian Bellows, for a Hartford Whalers player who does not exist.
Even in his worst nightmare, however, Nanne probably couldn't envision the North Stars being shut out by the Kings, who have the worst defense in the National Hockey League.
But that's exactly what happened Saturday night at the Forum, where King goaltender Rollie Melanson was brilliant, stopping 39 shots in a 5-0 victory.
It was the Kings' first shutout since Jan. 14, 1987, when Melanson made 27 saves in a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks, who also felt the effects of Melanson's blanking of the North Stars this time.
The victory moved the Kings past the Canucks, who lost their sixth straight game Saturday night, and into fourth place in the Smythe Division.
"The season isn't young," said the Kings' Jimmy Carson. "If we're going to make a push, it's got to be right now."
Carson nudged the Kings in the right direction, scoring three goals in the rough-and-tumble game that was marred by 124 minutes in penalties.
But it was Melanson who was saluted by the crowd of 13,906, which gave the former North Star a standing ovation with 1:35 left.
"When I was in Minnesota, it was very frustrating because I felt I didn't get the opportunity I deserved," said Melanson, who was traded to the Kings through the New York Rangers on Dec. 9, 1985. "This was an opportunity to get some revenge."
It was the third career shutout for Melanson, including one against the Montreal Canadiens in 1983, when he played for the New York Islanders.
And it couldn't have come at a better time for the Kings, who play Vancouver five times in their next 20 games, beginning with a home-and-home series Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
"We were hoping to get a big game tonight, especially going into the series against Vancouver," Coach Robbie Ftorek said. "I thought Rollie came up with a lot of big saves."
Ftorek also had praise for the Kings' penalty-killing unit, which ranks last in the NHL but which blanked the North Stars on six power-play opportunities.
"There was a lot of effort out there tonight," Ftorek said. "The guys sacrificed themselves."
Carson, held without a point in his previous three games, gave the Kings a 1-0 lead just 2 minutes 16 seconds into the game, scoring on a rebound.
Minnesota goaltender Don Beaupre was unable to glove a hard shot from the slot by Grant Ledyard, and the puck sailed off the glass behind the net, bouncing back in front.
Carson got to it before the North Stars' Dave Gagner and poked it past Beaupre into the net.
The Kings, who failed to score in four first-period power-play opportunities, took advantage of a high-sticking penalty against Minnesota's Frantisek Musil at 5:09 of the second.
Luc Robitaille, scoring his 13th power-play goal, deflected a shot from the slot by Ken Hammond.
About a minute later, Melanson stopped the North Stars' Dennis Maruk on a breakaway. Then, about 20 seconds later, he stopped Brian MacLellan on a breakaway.
With 10 minutes left in the period, and the North Stars' Bob Rouse in the penalty box for interfering with Phil Sykes, Jim Fox scored a power-play goal to put the Kings ahead, 3-0.
Bernie Nicholls set up the goal, keeping a pass by Hammond in the Kings' zone and feeding the puck to Fox on the left side. Uncontested, Fox skated into the left circle, firing a 25-foot shot through a crowd in front of the net.
Carson scored again at 1:49 of the third period, knocking in a rebound of a shot by Lyle Phair with the North Stars' Bob Rouse in the penalty box for holding Robitaille.
The Kings led, 4-0, having converted three straight manpower advantages.
Carson completed his second hat trick of the season with 3:42 left, scoring on a back-handed shot from the left circle after taking a pass from Taylor, who had stolen the puck from Curt Giles at the Minnesota blue line.
Minnesota's Moe Mantha, who tripped over King goaltender Rollie Melanson in the third period and slammed into the boards, will be examined in Minnesota for a possible separation of his left shoulder. . . . Jimmy Carson last scored three goals Oct. 10 against the St. Louis Blues. . . . Luc Robitaille and the North Stars' Stephane Roy collided in the second period, with Roy requiring seven stitches to close a cut above his left eye. "It was the best hit of my career--taken and given," said Robitaille, who had a small cut over his left eye. . . . Bruce McNall, who has agreed to purchase the remaining 51% of the Kings from Jerry Buss to become sole owner of the team, said he would like to have the deal closed in time for the Kings to seek approval of the transaction from the National Hockey League's Board of Governors Feb. 9 at St. Louis.