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Kings Finish What They Started, 4-3

Hockey: Reminded of how they won season opener on the road, L.A. responds and defeats Anaheim in overtime.

April 10, 2000|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Kings came to the Arrowhead Pond like so many people went to the Santa Monica Farmer's Market on Sunday: with a shopping list.

Let's see now:

* Get in some work against a team with speed. Check.

* Get Rob Blake some ice time before the playoffs. Check.

* Tuneup the power play. Check.

* Get a victory to finish over .500 on the road, one that would earn a .500 season against the Mighty Ducks.

Glen Murray's power-play goal on a breakaway, 1:06 into overtime, gave the Kings a 4-3 victory.

Checkmate.

Murray's goal capped a game that was more exciting for the announced 17,174 than was anticipated, given the stakes, which were zero. It was the first game all season the Kings have played without pressure. No jobs were earned, as in exhibitions. No points were needed for a position in the standings, as was the case in the first 81 regular-season games.

The Ducks were already out of the playoffs.

"It was a tough game to play," said Blake, who played for the first time since suffering a bruised knee against the Ducks eight days earlier. "You come out and you don't know how they're going to play it, and then you get going."

And somehow hockey takes over.

"It was an interesting game to play," King Coach Andy Murray said. "I don't think our intensity was as high as it has been."

But there was, after all, a game that could be won, and the Kings decided to do that between the second and third periods.

"At the intermission, we talked about a season that began with us winning at Nashville in a pretty good game, and about how we could end it [with a victory] here," Murray said.

And so the Kings tied the score, 2-2, on a goal by Bob Corkum only 2:14 into the period, and took a 3-2 lead on Blake's power-play goal only 1:42 later.

The Ducks countered with Teemu Selanne's second goal, a power-play effort at 8:54.

"There was a scramble in our own end on the first goal in the third period," Duck Coach Craig Hartsburg said. "Then we took a penalty and we've struggled all year to kill penalties."

In the overtime, the Ducks took another when Oleg Tverdovsky was called for high-sticking Craig Johnson.

The Kings found themselves with a four-on-three overtime advantage, but playing defense while the Ducks' Kevin Haller carried the puck up the left side of the ice. Blake stood Haller up at the blue line, and Jozef Stumpel suddenly had the puck.

"He just chipped it away from the defenseman to me," said Murray, who scored ahead of a closing Ruslan Salei.

The finale was accomplished with many of the Kings otherwise occupied.

Winger Luc Robitaille was at home, resting and watching on the big-screen TV given him by teammates for scoring his 500th goal last season. Defenseman Garry Galley was bringing wife Terry-Lynn and one-day-old Blake Galley home from the hospital. Winger Ziggy Palffy was probably wishing he was playing, rather than skating hard in a workout.

The rest of the Kings were finishing one season and getting ready for another, which will begin Thursday at Detroit.

Sunday helped.

"[The Ducks] do things with speed, and Detroit has speed, so that helps us [get ready]," Andy Murray said.

Momentum helps too. The Kings won their last two games and were 5-1-3 in their last nine.

It's the way you want to go into the playoffs.

"Every team has a chance in the playoffs, but to beat Detroit is really tough," said Selanne, who should know. The Red Wings beat the Ducks in four games in the opening round of last season's playoffs.

"The Kings have some momentum and they have a good team," Selanne added. "If they get hot goaltending, anything is possible. I guess we have to wish them luck."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

King High

Most points in a season for the Kings:

105: 1974-75

102: 1990-91

99: 1980-81

94: 1999-00

91: 1988-89

88: 1992-93

87: 1997-98

85: 1975-76

84: 1991-92

83: 1976-77

82: 1984-85

80: 1978-79

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