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Kings Slide to Another Setback Despite Soft Patch in Schedule : Hocky: Momesso scores two goals as Maple Leafs win, 6-3, increasing some frustrations.

December 17, 1995|LISA DILLMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Welcome to inertia.

It seems as though the Kings are treading on ice, taking a step forward and then sliding back. Any distinct sign of progress disappeared in a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night at the Forum before a crowd of 14,363. Left wing Sergio Momesso led the Maple Leafs with two goals.

Then again, progress had come at the expense of the lowly Ottawa Senators earlier this week. If the Kings (13-13-6) aren't planning on making any moves before the Christmas trading freeze, which starts Tuesday, inertia is not only limited to those on the ice.

The Kings are 1-3 in their last four games. Toronto has won five of its last six games. This is supposed to be the portion of the schedule where the Kings can potentially pick up some momentum in the standings since most of their games are against Western Conference opponents.

Somehow, the move of bringing in minor-leaguers, while well-intentioned, is not quite the answer. A perfect example of that was about midway through the second period when Wayne Gretzky had a two-on-one working with right wing Dan Bylsma, who was called up from Phoenix earlier this week.

Gretzky fed Bylsma on the right wing. Bylsma, trying to smack a one-timer past Toronto goaltender Felix Potvin, swung mightily and simply fell down.

King Coach Larry Robinson is clearly getting frustrated. He came out to speak to the media after the game and didn't see any reporters. When reporters finally arrived, the usually-cooperative Robinson first refused to speak, but later relented.

"We had a lot of mental mistakes," said King defenseman Marty McSorley. "I don't think we played any form of a thorough game. We were just haphazard and we lost our focus at times."

What held the Kings back considerably also was their specialty teams suffering through a miserable evening. Toronto converted on three-of-six opportunities, including a three-of-three run in the first period. On the power play, the Kings were 0 for eight.

Despite the squandered opportunity on the two-on-one, Gretzky played a strong offensive game with three assists, two coming in the second period. And King left wing Eric Lacroix, playing against his former team, showed his usual hustle and jump and scored the Kings' first goal, at 19:29 of the first period, cutting Toronto's lead to 3-1.

Some glimpses of promise then appeared as the Kings stirred and came to life after Toronto took a 4-1 lead in the second period, scoring twice in a 46-second to pull within a goal.

Left wing Dimitri Khristich, who had been struggling offensively, scored his second goal in the last two games on a rather innocent-looking play. Gretzky started it as his shot came bouncing off the end boards. Khristich pounced on the loose puck at the base of the left circle and flicked it past a surprised Potvin at 13:37. It was his 11th goal of the season.

Then defenseman Marty McSorley pulled the Kings to 4-3 with his sixth goal of the season, finishing off a precise passing play from Gretzky and Tony Granato. They turned a two-on-one into a three-on-two and McSorley capped it off with a shot from the middle of the slot, beating Potvin between the legs.

Additional momentum heading into the final 20 minutes came from King goaltender Byron Dafoe, who stopped Dave Andreychuk on a breakaway with 38 seconds remaining in the period. The Kings had a season-high 22 shots on goal in that period, outshooting Toronto, 22-9.

But they could get no closer in the third period as Toronto scored twice.

*

King Notes

Right wing Rick Tocchet missed his first game of the season because of a one-game suspension, having received his third game misconduct of the season. Also sitting out were forward John Druce (pulled groin) and defenseman Steve Finn (pulled groin).

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