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Penguins Aid Kings' Free-Fall

March 30, 1997|From Associated Press

PITTSBURGH — The Kings, en route to sitting out the postseason for a fourth consecutive season, suffered further indignities Saturday in a 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh. They were swept, 2-0, by the Penguins in a season series for the first time in their history.

Ron Francis, reunited with linemates Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr for the first time in a month, scored his 400th and 401st goals to pace Pittsburgh.

"When they're on the ice, we know we can score five, six goals a night," Penguin defenseman Kevin Hatcher said. "The other teams know it too, and they can't be nearly as aggressive offensively against us."

Francis put Pittsburgh ahead, 1-0, at 7:11 of the first period, jumping on a loose puck in the middle of the slot to lift a backhander between King goalie Jean-Claude Bergeron's stick and the right post.

Bergeron was called up last week because Stephane Fiset is still out nursing a groin-stomach injury, and Byron Dafoe had started the last four games.

Ed Olczyk, traded by the Kings on March 18, continued the salt-in-the-wound theme when he scored his first Penguin goal at 1:57 of the second. Francis scored his 25th goal at 11:13, then capped Pittsburgh's three-goal second period by setting up Fredrik Olausson's ninth at 12:58.

Penguin goaltender Ken Wregget won for the first time since March 8 and ended his team's three-game losing streak. He stopped 27 shots but lost a shutout on Roman Vopat's third-period power-play goal.

The Kings are an NHL-worst 9-25-4 on the road.

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