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Kings Get Mad When They Get Evened by the Bruins

Hockey: L.A. frustrated after letting three leads get away and failing to put Boston away in 4-4 tie.

November 27, 2000|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BOSTON — Dixon Ward was in the wrong place at the right time and almost won a game for the Kings, which would have been embarrassing because he plays for the Bruins.

Andrei Kovalenko was in the right place at the right time and his goal with 3:21 to play salvaged Boston's 4-4 tie with the Kings on Sunday night at FleetCenter.

"You just have to make sure you hit the net," said Kovalenko, who couldn't have missed because the puck was behind King goalie Jamie Storr, only inches from the goal line.

Storr had rejected Zdenek Kutlak's long shot, but Boston's Brian Rolston scrambled for the rebound and sent it back at the goalie, who got most--but not all--of the puck. It slid slowly between his legs toward the net, and Kovalenko--who had limped from the ice earlier after being nailed on a check by Rob Blake--circled around the King net and poked the puck home, to the delight of an announced 13,108.

"It was right on my stick," Kovalenko said. "I guess it's, what do they say, right time at the right place?"

That's pretty much what they say.

Luc Robitaille had given the Kings a 4-3 lead with a goal only 1:10 earlier by turning a shot from an impossible angle--behind the goal line--into an improbable goal.

He got help early on from Craig Johnson, but the major assist came from Ward, who was loitering in front of his own goalie when Robitaille sent the puck ricocheting off his skate and into the net.

It was a goal-scorer's goal, accomplished because of the goal-scorer's credo: when in doubt, shoot. From anywhere.

"I was just trying to put it in front of the net, because I knew there was traffic there," Robitaille said. That traffic was Ward. It's all Robitaille needed to establish the Kings' third lead of the night.

All were blown.

"I'm not sure you can say blown," Coach Andy Murray said. "It was earned on their part, and it's a matter of us not getting a job done. We got a fortunate goal to go up, 4-3, with about four minutes left. We've got to win that game."

Instead, Boston came back against a team that left town dissatisfied.

"Let's just say that we thought we could get two points here easier than we could in Pittsburgh," Storr said.

True enough. The Bruins are a team in disarray, with a new coach and players coming and going. One is Bill Guerin, who came to Boston since it last played the Kings--and lost to them, 5-0, on Oct. 13. He was traded from Edmonton and scored with two minutes to play in the second period Sunday night to bring the Bruins back to a 3-3 tie.

To that point, it was the Ziggy Palffy show, with occasional breaks for a comedy of King errors.

But nobody was laughing.

"It's a game where we aren't happy with a tie," Murray said. "We should have won tonight."

Palffy did his part with two first-period goals and an assist on Jozef Stumpel's power-play goal in the second period.

Palffy has six goals and five assists in his last seven games. He leads the NHL in points with 34.

His first goal was the game's first, the 18th time in 24 games the Kings have accomplished that feat. It was scored at 4:14 when Bryan Smolinski intercepted a pass at the Boston blue line and fed Palffy, who tied defenseman Zdenek Kutlak in knots before beating goalie Peter Skudra for a 1-0 lead.

It lasted less than two minutes, negated when Ward scored an easy goal and Kovalenko an even easier one, when he took advantage of a blue line turnover by rookie defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

"We will have to play better in New York," Palffy said of the trip's finale, Tuesday night against the Rangers.

The Kings will have to play better to salvage a win after an appealing tie in Pittsburgh and its sequel, a tie Sunday night that pleased nobody at all.

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