You know things are a little shaky when the first Kings scoreless tie since Oct. 18, 1977 is cause for cheers all around at the Forum, at least those left from the sellout crowd of 16,005.
Yet, by failing to score against the Dallas Stars, the Kings picked up a point on Wednesday night in the Western Conference, pulling within six of the San Jose Sharks for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Double shutouts, anyone?
For King goaltender Robb Stauber, it was his first NHL shutout as he faced 34 shots. Dallas goaltender Andy Moog was flawless as he made 39 saves. But the Kings (21-32-7) were lucky to escape overtime without losing in final minute, which had happened three consecutive times in the last month. They had lost five consecutive games before Wednesday's tie.
Dallas suffered a major loss when defenseman Mark Tinordi went crashing into the end boards and broke his left femur at 2:11 of the third period. Tinordi and King forward John Druce, chasing the loose puck behind the Stars' net, appeared to lock skates and Druce had his hand on Tinordi's back before he smacked into the boards leg first.
There was a 15-minute delay and Tinordi was carried off on a stretcher and taken to Centinela Hospital in Inglewood.
Earlier, the Kings suffered a setback of their own off the ice when NHL senior vice president Brian Burke suspended defenseman Marty McSorley for four games and fined him $500 after an eye-scratching incident against the Sharks' Bob Errey on Saturday in San Jose.
McSorley, who already missed Monday's game, will return to the lineup at home against Montreal on Feb. 28.
No one among the Kings took the suspension quietly. That is, other than McSorley, who declined comment. Kings General Manager Nick Beverley, even hours after the verdict, was visibly upset and criticized Burke and the Sharks.
The ever-increasing bitterness between the Kings and the NHL and the Kings and the Sharks seemed far more interesting than the game against the Stars. Beverley said he thought Burke had made up his mind even before Wednesday's telephone hearing.
"It (the tape) is very inconclusive," Beverley said. "Obviously Mr. Burke felt very much different. It's a major bone of contention between the NHL and our office.
"Marty was very good in stating his position. He's says he's no angel. But he's never been known as a guy who would gouge someone's eye. If he wanted to do something, he would have beat the living hell out of the guy. He was trying to restrain himself, attempting to avert a (possible) game misconduct. He was very aware of everything he was doing."
Burke, reached Wednesday night in New York at the Ranger-Bruin game, refused to respond to the points raised by the Kings, saying: "The simple fact is that the video tape is quite conclusive and crystal clear. And I find any contention to the contrary to be bizarre.
"If they're going to take the position the tape is inconclusive, I'd view it if I were you and you'd be able to see it isn't."
Why four games?
"We've had one eye gouge this season. He (McSorley) is a repeat offender. He's been suspended at least three other times. With Chris Chelios, the action was not similar but the offense was equally serious."
Which is what bothered the Kings. During the telephone hearing, Burke also referred to the recent incident in which Chicago defenseman Chelios gouged the eye of Vancouver Canuck defenseman Dana Murzyn and received a four-game suspension.
"That's one of the things that's a contentious issue," Beverley said. "Some prejudice there. He (Burke) kept bringing up Chelios. Our response was that each case should be judged on its own merits. . . . What are we worried about, justice for Marty McSorley or protecting Chris Chelios because he got four games."
Beverley took issue with the Sharks, too, saying the team played up the incident, using a telestrater to highlight any actions by McSorley.