Wayne Gretzky had what he called "just one of those nights" as he scored two goals and added five assists to lead the Kings to an 11-3 victory over the Quebec Nordiques before a sellout crowd of 16,005 Saturday night at the Forum.
Gretzky has had a lot of those nights in his illustrious career, but he hadn't had one in quite a while. The Kings hadn't had one like that for quite a while, either.
But all of a sudden, at the start of the third period, the Kings found their golden touch.
Steve Duchesne's consecutive goals to open the third period, followed by Steve Kasper's goal fewer than three minutes later, sent the Nordiques' starting goalie, Mario Gosselin, to the bench in favor of Ron Tugnutt.
Poor Tugnutt had been in front of the net little more than a minute when the first shot he faced came from Gretzky, skating at him one-on-one on a breakaway, when the Kings were shorthanded. Gretzky lifted the puck into the back of the net.
The second shot Tugnutt didn't really get a chance to face. Gretzky wrapped around behind the net and tucked the puck into the corner to make it 9-3.
Dave Taylor then scored another goal.
Adding insult to injury, the Kings started beating up on the Nordiques at that point. Both Jay Miller and Ken Baumgartner were given 5-minute fighting penalties in the final minutes of the game, along with the Nordiques who were throwing punches.
And Nordique Coach Jean Perron was thrown out for making an obscene gesture.
With 1:37 left, Luc Robitaille added yet another goal, his second of the game. On Robitaille's goal, Gretzky got his fifth assist for a game total of seven points and a career total of 1,800 points.
Gordie Howe holds the all-time National Hockey League record with 1,850 points. Gretzky would like to break that record this season.
"I need 51 points in 21 games, and if I'm going to do that, I'm going to need a few more nights like tonight, with six or seven points," Gretzky said.
The Kings' record is 31-23-5. The Nordiques are 21-34-6.
"The team needed a night like this," Gretzky said. "For the last month or so we've had one-goal wins or one-goal losses, or ties. We needed to break out like this."
Gretzky had assists on all three of the Kings' goals in the first period as the Kings took a 3-1 lead. Mike Krushelnyski started the scoring for the Kings. Quebec rookie Joe Sakic answered with a goal 25 seconds later. But goals by Robitaille and Bernie Nicholls gave the Kings the lead going into the second period.
Quebec tied it in the second period. Walt Poddubny deflected a bouncing puck from a shot by Peter Stastny over goalie Glenn Healy, who was on the ice, and then Ken McRae took a rebound of his own shot and wrapped it around behind the net for the tying goal.
John Tonelli broke the tie with a hard shot from the left circle at 18:08 to put the Kings up, 4-3, going into the third period.
An interference call on Quebec defenseman Jeff Brown in the opening minute of the third period gave the Kings a power play, and they took advantage of it. Steve Duchesne sneaked the puck into the left corner of the goal as Tonelli deflected the puck across the crease. Nordique goalie Mario Gosselin had been busy facing an attack on the other side.
Duchesne scored 5 minutes later, slapping the puck down the middle through traffic to give the Kings a 6-3 lead.
Kasper scored to make it 7-3, when Perron replaced goalies.
Asked if the Kings made a conscious effort to attack the new goalie early, Gretzky smiled.
"That's the kind of thing everybody says on the bench, but when you get on the ice, you just play," he said. "My (breakaway) goal was a lucky shot. Sometimes you get lucky. It hit the crossbar and went in. It just went over his shoulder and went in."
His second goal was vintage Gretzky.
Dave Taylor summarized: "The third period we played real sound, and then the gates were opened. Gretzky was great. When he's playing like he can and the rest of us are solid, then we're tough to beat."
Nordique defenseman Randy Moller said he just had to give the Kings' offense the credit.
"We got down, 5-3, and tried to open up the play, but we got burned pretty bad. Once they got the momentum, the goals just started going in, and it seemed the flood gates just opened up."
Mike Allison did not play Saturday night because of the automatic one-game suspension given after his second major stick penalty Wednesday night. . . . Igor Liba, who has been out with a shoulder injury, returned to the lineup for the Kings. . . . With three assists in the first period Saturday night, Wayne Gretzky's total reached 85, breaking the club record of 84 set by Marcel Dionne in the 1979-80 season. . . . The Kings' scoring streak reached 231 games Saturday night. Only the Calgary Flames have had a longer streak, scoring in 264 consecutive games in a streak that ended Jan. 9, 1985. . . . The Kings are sending forward Bob Kudelski back to New Haven. . . . Seven goals in one period (the third Saturday night) was a record for the Kings. . . . Gretzky has scored as many as eight points in one game in his career, but seven is his best with the Kings.