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Canucks Latest to Put On Show at Forum : Pro hockey: Kings lose for the eighth time in 12 home games, 5-4.


Beware the next time someone talks about a favorable home schedule and getting off to a quick start.

The benefit of playing at home during this shortened season has become something of a joke for the Kings, who have stumbled and staggered in completing 12 games, the first half of their schedule at the Forum.

Saturday's latest miscue, a 5-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks before a sellout crowd of 16,005, means the Kings are on an underwhelming four-victory pace at home.

They are 2-8-2 at the Forum and their road record looks good only in comparison to the home record. The Kings (5-10-4) have won once in seven games and are 11th in the Western Conference, one point ahead of the last-place Mighty Ducks.

Meanwhile, goaltender Grant Fuhr is looking for his first victory or tie as a King. He has made four appearances, two of them starts and has allowed 18 goals in 9 1/2 periods.

The game winner was scored late in the second period by Vancouver center Cliff Ronning with 1:06 remaining. Ronning, coming out from the left corner, skated unchecked as he stickhandled through the goal mouth and merely flipped a backhander over the fallen Fuhr.

"It kills you, without a doubt," King Coach Barry Melrose said of giving up goals late in the period. "It's the ultimate sin of a hockey player. When you do that, your team should go to hell.

"It hasn't frozen over yet. We had total control of the game and we were dominating. That was definitely the killer tonight."

It meant, once again, all the hard work by the Kings went for naught. They erased a two-goal deficit in the second period, helped by a five-minute high-sticking major penalty to Vancouver defenseman Jason Cullimore at 11:03.

Cullimore, who received an automatic game misconduct, clipped the bridge of Wayne Gretzky's nose and drew blood. The Kings had nine shots on the ensuing power play and scored on Rob Blake's slap shot from the blue line at 14:16 to tie it, 4-4. It was Blake's first goal of the season, a deceptive statistic because he was sidelined for almost a month because of a strained groin.

On the goal, Blake got a bit of help from Canuck forward Martin Gelinas, who deflected his slap shot past goaltender Kirk McLean.

The other King goals were scored by Tony Granato (fifth of the season), Pat Conacher (third), Jari Kurri (fifth). Kurri's came at 3:17 of the second period and it was his 560th in the NHL, moving him into an eighth-place tie with Guy Lafleur on the all-time goal-scoring list.

Gretzky set up Kurri for his first point in three games. Kurri added assists on the Granato and Blake goals for a three-point night.

"I turned Gretz loose a little bit," Melrose said. "We talked about him and Jari keeping the puck and not giving it up. That's what Gretz has to do."

In a wild first period, Vancouver took a 4-2 lead as the line of Gelinas, Greg Adams and Geoff Courtnall accounted for three goals and six assists. Courtnall had one goal and three assists. The other Canuck goal was scored by defenseman Jeff Brown, who racked up nine points in his last two games against the Kings.


King Notes

King General Manager Sam McMaster said defenseman Dave Karpa needed wrist surgery and would have been sidelined for five months, which is why the NHL invalidated the King-Nordique trade on Friday. The deal had been contingent upon Karpa passing a physical. He didn't. "We didn't know it hadn't healed," McMaster said. "They (the Nordiques) didn't do a CAT scan and we did." So, did McMaster feel the Nordiques were trying to pull a fast one? "I'm going to say no," McMaster said. . . . Defenseman Marty McSorley, who had missed seven consecutive games because of a groin strain, returned.

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