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Storr Stands Up to Devils' Fury

Hockey: Goalie's improved play secures Kings' 2-1 victory.

November 05, 2000|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There was no magic, no mystery, no miracle.

There was no hidden meaning, no hidden message.

There was no highlight-video play.

"I just thought it was letting the puck hit him," King Coach Andy Murray said of goalie Jamie Storr's performance in a 2-1 victory over New Jersey on Saturday.

"It was hitting him and he was there."

He hasn't always been there lately. And pucks haven't hit him.

"I don't look at this as how come I didn't play so well three weeks ago, why did I play so well [today]," Storr said. "You work hard and this happens."

Eventually.

Storr made goals by Bryan Smolinski and Jozef Stumpel stand up amid a third-period onslaught that reached its apex with 12.1 seconds to play when Brian Rafalski launched a knuckleball from near the blue line.

Storr saw the puck briefly as it left Rafalski's stick. The next time he saw it, time was out and referee Don VanMassenhoven was picking it up off the ice, where it lay under Storr.

"I saw it for a second and it looked low, so I went down," Storr said. "It was coming through a maze and I went down on my back and it was covered."

After they picked New Jersey's Scott Gomez off Storr, then looked under the goalie, the puck was still out of the net.

All told, last season's Stanley Cup champions put 34 shots on net, missed the target 21 times and watched the Kings block 13 pucks, for a total of 68 tries.

Storr had 13 saves in the first period alone, three on rapid-fire shots by Alexander Mogilny, Bobby Holik and Patrik Elias.

In the final period, Mogilny missed the net from point-blank range with only Storr to hinder him.

"There were a lot of lucky bounces for the team, but two weeks ago, the puck was bouncing the other way," Storr said.

The Kings got one on Smolinski's goal, which gave them a 1-0 lead.

Kelly Buchberger dug the puck off the wall and sent it to Nelson Emerson. Devil goalie Chris Terreri went out to challenge Emerson, who sent the puck to Smolinski, breaking in on the left wing.

"It hit my heel [of my stick]," Smolinski said. "I kind of whiffed it and it just stayed there, so I got it with second effort."

Terreri was late recovering, and Smolinski nudged the puck past the goalie's stick.

The second goal came when Ziggy Palffy stripped Rafalski of the puck at the New Jersey blue line, skated in and sent a pass to Stumpel, who beat Terreri for a 2-0 lead at 17:49. It was the final of only three second-period shots for the Kings.

New Jersey Coach Larry Robinson saw both goals as charity.

"I think what happened is that we gave them two goals," he said. "We should have come out of the first period [even], but we made a bad clearing pass and our coverage wasn't good. We left [Smolinski] open.

"On the second one, we had a chance to make a play and we gave it to [Palffy] for the second goal. So we gave them two gifts."

And the Kings took advantage of both.

When Randy McKay tipped in Rafalski's power-play shot at 7:33 of the third period, things tightened up.

The Kings answered with ice time for the line of Buchberger, Smolinski and Emerson.

"They were getting several good puck-possession shifts," said Murray, whose idea was that, if the Kings had the puck, there was a good chance New Jersey couldn't score with it.

"They were making great decisions. They just took away from the momentum of the other team. They never allowed the Devils continuous play. That's the way they play: They wear you down, wear you down, wear you down."

The answer was keeping the puck and, when the Kings didn't have it, they called on Storr, who is showing signs of coming out of a funk that saw him benched two weeks ago.

He responded with hard labor and has won two in a row.

"I just look at this as you get results from a work ethic," he said. "There's no magic out there."

No mystery.

No miracle.

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