BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The sun shone brightly and warmly this week in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, raising temperatures above freezing for the first time this month.
The forecast, though, is still gloomy for the under-the-weather Minnesota North Stars, who have the worst record in the National Hockey League and haven't won since Jan. 27.
Their winless streak was stretched to seven games Wednesday night by the Kings, who scored twice in the last 3 minutes 36 seconds for a 5-4 victory before a Met Center crowd of 10,279, which has probably grown accustomed to such endings this season.
The North Stars' record of 8-19-3 in the Met Center is the worst home record in the NHL.
Luc Robitaille had a hand in the tying and winning goals for the Kings, who ended a two-game losing streak with their late rally.
Robitaille scored his 37th goal with 3:36 left, taking a rebound of a deflection by Tom Laidlaw and putting it into the net from the left circle.
Then, 53 seconds later, Robitaille took a pass in the slot from Craig Laughlin and left it for Bob Carpenter, whose shot through the legs of goaltender Dan Beaupre gave Carpenter his first goal since Jan. 8.
It also made losers of the North Stars, who are 0-6-1 since beating the New York Islanders Jan. 27.
Laughlin had chased down the puck in the right corner and centered it to Robitaille, who was skating horizontally through the slot.
"I had yelled at Locker (Laughlin) to send it toward the net, and Luc must have heard me," Carpenter said. "I think the defenseman (on Robitaille) made a nice play to stay with Luc, but I think Luc made a better play to leave it there for me."
Robitaille, though, said he never heard Carpenter.
"As I saw the puck coming, I saw Bobby coming down behind me, so I thought I'd better leave it there for him," Robitaille said.
It all happened so quickly that Beaupre had no time to react.
"He didn't even realize what was going on," Carpenter said. "I just kind of snapped it between his legs."
The Kings, who had lost three of their last four games, opened an early 2-0 lead, scoring twice in a 59-second span of the first period.
Phil Sykes scored first for the Kings, stuffing the puck into the net after Beaupre reached above his head for a wild shot by Bernie Nicholls, knocking the puck into the air.
When Beaupre reached for the puck again, he bobbled it behind the net, and Sykes swept it up and carried it around to the other side to score.
With 5:59 left in the period, Carpenter held up the North Stars' Bob Rouse in the left corner, enabling Robitaille to chase down the puck.
Robitaille back-handed a pass in front to Laughlin, who beat Beaupre from between the circles.
King goaltender Rollie Melanson, who stopped 39 shots in a 5-0 victory over the North Stars Jan. 30, held them scoreless this time until 2 minutes 4 seconds into the second period.
Dave Archibald, skating down the left side, centered a pass that hit the skate of King defenseman Ken Baumgartner and caromed softly in front to Brian MacLellan, who scored easily.
Dave Gagner tied it for the North Stars at 12:56 of the second period, taking a pass behind the defense, skating in alone and beating Melanson into the upper right corner of the net for a short-handed goal.
Mike Allison gave the Kings a 3-2 lead with 3:41 left in the period, chasing down the rebound of his own shot and scoring from the right circle.
Allison's shot from the left point was stopped by Beaupre, but Rouse inadvertently kicked the rebound into the right circle.
Dino Ciccarelli, who had 12 shots on goal, pulled the North Stars even again with 2:10 left in the period, scoring on an off-speed shot from the slot that seemed to get lost in a crowd of players before making its way through Melanson's legs.
Ciccarelli then gave the North Stars a 4-3 lead at 1:50 of the third period, picking up a loose puck and scoring on a 30-foot shot from the left circle.
It wasn't enough, though, for the North Stars.
Cap Raeder, head coach at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., and a former high school teammate of Coach Robbie Ftorek, will join the Kings' coaching staff at the end of the college hockey season, Ftorek said after the game. Raeder, 34, is a former goaltender who played two seasons with the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Assn. He and Ftorek led Needhan (Mass.) to back-to-back state championships in 1969 and 1970
The Kings end their two-game trip tonight against the St. Louis Blues, who are second in the Norris Division with a 26-25-5 record. . . . A back injury forced referee Dave Newell to leave the game after the first period. Linesmen Ray Scapinello and Jerry Pateman officiated the last two periods, with Scapinello acting as referee.