The glare of King right wing Rick Tocchet--at least for his linemate Dan Quinn--seems to be about as formidable as his presence in front of the net.
Fully cognizant of the wrath of Tocchet, Quinn scored twice on Thursday in a 2-2 overtime tie with the St. Louis Blues as the Kings managed to carry some of their road spirit back to the Forum.
Although the Kings, 2-8-3 at home and 8-12-5 overall, played an intense, fast-paced third period before 15,432 and could have won it in regulation, the fact remains that they have not won a game at home since beating Detroit on Feb. 4.
Quinn's second goal of the game and ninth of the season came at 12:17 of the third period, tying the score, 2-2, as he beat St. Louis goaltender Curtis Joseph down low off a breakaway. Tocchet started the play with a pinpoint pass from the neutral zone to Quinn, who was breaking free.
"He (Tocchet) gives you that look, and if you don't work hard, he's going to rip your head off," said Quinn, who has 13 points in the last 11 games.
Said Tocchet, smiling: "We've got it going good. I got mad at him earlier this season, and he knows the look. He's playing well."
Earlier, Quinn tied the score, 1-1, at 6:14 of the third, redirecting the puck past Joseph at the right crease. But less than three minutes later, the Blues regained the lead with a shorthanded goal as the Kings were victimized on another outnumbered attack. This time it was a two-on-none attack by Blues forwards Brendan Shanahan and Brett Hull. Shanahan scored from the edge of the right circle, beating King goaltender Kelly Hrudey up high, at 9:10. It was Shanahan's seventh goal of the season.
The Blues' first goal--which was the only goal through the first two periods--came at 14:38 of the second on a two-on-one attack with forward Kevin Miller in the left-wing circle, beating Hrudey on the glove side.
For the Kings, this particular game was important simply not to lose at home.
"Psychologically, it's probably more important than anything, even though we played a game we could have won," Tocchet said.
"You wonder, gee, what will it take. It's not a large step, but a small step."
Said King Coach Barry Melrose, talking about the problems playing at home: "We're petitioning the league to let us wear our black (road) uniforms at home. It's been a mental thing. I'd love to design a black uniform at home."
Designing an effective power play might be more helpful--at home or on the road. The Kings continue to struggle on the power play even though Tony Granato and Jari Kurri returned to the lineup Thursday. Kurri missed two games because of a hip injury and Granato was out for one with the same injury. The Kings did not score a power-play goal on their five-game trip, going 0-14. The drought extended to 0-17 as the Kings failed to score on three power-play opportunities Thursday.
Their power play is two for 52 in the last 14 games, directly coinciding with the trade of defenseman Alexei Zhitnik to the Sabres last month.
Questions about the issue of King Coach Barry Melrose's job security came up again. Said Melrose: "I told them (the players) today I would fall on my sword. I take full responsibility for the on-ice product."
Right wing Rick Tocchet decided to change his number from 92 to 22. He once wore No. 22, but when he was traded to the Kings last summer, defenseman Charlie Huddy had the number. It became available when Huddy was traded to Buffalo in the six-player deal last month.
Center Robert Lang has not scored a goal since Feb. 25 against Edmonton, a seven-game drought. Defenseman Denis Tsygurov, a decided disappointment since joining the Kings last month in the Buffalo deal, was in the lineup on Thursday but did not leave the bench. He had been a healthy scratch the last two games.