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Storr Has the Goods Again for the Kings

Pro hockey: Goalie stops 30 shots in 4-1 victory over Islanders.

November 06, 2000|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — When the Kings lost at Columbus on Tuesday, they laid the credit where it belonged: on Blue Jacket goalie Ron Tugnutt.

"We were beaten by Tugnutt, he stole one," was the consensus, for the goalie is where things begin in the NHL.

It's also where things ended for the Kings on Sunday afternoon.

Jamie Storr had 30 saves and turned goals by Mathieu Schneider, Steve Reinprecht and Bob Corkum and a record-tying score by Luc Robitaille into a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders before a few dozen people at Nassau Coliseum.

The number was inflated to 10,281 for official records.

"Every team's like that," said Robitaille, assessing the importance of strong goaltending in a team's overall success.

"You look at New Jersey. If they don't have Martin Brodeur, I don't think they win the Stanley Cup. You look at Dallas. Take away Eddie Belfour and I don't think they would be the team they are. You take away Patrick Roy and Colorado's not in first place."

You get goaltending like the Kings have gotten from Storr in the last three games, and they are on Colorado's heels.

He gave up four goals in three games spread over four days, and beat Atlanta, New Jersey and the Islanders.

Storr also exorcised some New York-area demons. They were accumulated in December at New Jersey, which touched him for three quick goals en route to a 7-1 victory; and downtown, where the New York Rangers had six goals in five minutes of the first period of an 8-0 scalding of the Kings.

Then again, Storr might not remember. He had suffered a concussion at Montreal three days before playing at New Jersey, but didn't know it at the time.

"It's two different situations, two completely different teams," he insisted Sunday of the comparison.

"It's kind of funny though . . . We were saying we wanted to focus on what happened last year as a kind of turning point into a skid [the Kings went 2-8-1 in their next 11 games]. This year we wanted to take it out on them and turn it a different way. Guys who weren't on the team last year were making jokes: 'hey, you guys were awful here last year.' "

They have had awful times this season too, and Storr has had some of the most awful, struggling through a four-goal-in-11-shot effort against Phoenix on Oct. 15 that led to a brief benching.

His renaissance has been duly noted by his teammates.

"Top teams are getting the kind of goalkeeping Storrsie has been giving us the last two games," said Robitaille. "He's playing as well as I've seen him play. He's in a groove now and good for him. He's shown a lot of character in coming out of it and playing very well."

Robitaille came out of a funk himself with his empty-net goal, scored with 1:53 to play after he took a pass from Glen Murray on a two-on-one break.

It was Robitaille's 560th goal and tied him with Guy Lafeur for 14th place on the all-time NHL list.

It also broke an eight-game goal drought.

"Now the floodgates open," he said, laughing. "We were laughing with 'Lapy' [Ian Laperriere] that he had put a curse on me. Well, he took it off last night."

Laperriere, like Robitaille, grew up in Montreal, a city that reveres Lafleur, "The Flower" and his accomplishments.

"Really, it was an unselfish play by Glen [Murray]," Robitaille said. "He could have shot it but he gave it to me."

The Kings fell behind, 1-0, on Oleg Kvasha's goal in the first period, then came back with a power-play score by Schneider, who took a pass from Rob Blake and fired from beyond the faceoff circle.

Reinprecht's goal came 30 seconds into the second period and proved to be the game-winner, and a controversial score by Corkum at 11:06 made it 3-1.

The controversy came when former King Garry Galley and Kelly Buchberger tangled with goalie Wade Flaherty in the Islander crease and Corkum took a puck from Nelson Emerson and popped it over the bodies.

Buchberger claims he was pushed.

Galley claims otherwise.

"I was trying to catch up with Emerson [who was breaking away]," Galley said. "And then the puck popped in the air and I swatted it toward the corner. I was waiting for a whistle, and I never touched Buchberger when he was in the crease."

The third period belonged to the Kings.

"I thought we were very, very good in the third period," Coach Andy Murray said. "I thought we played very well with the lead."

New York tested Storr only seven times in the third and he handled them all.

So the Kings come home with a three-game winning streak, fashioned largely by a goalie.

As most of them are.

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