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In Need of a Catalyst, Kings Turn to 'The Cat'

Hockey: Potvin has second consecutive shutout as L.A. routs Colorado, 4-0, to improve playoff hopes.

April 01, 2001|HELENE ELLIOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Discarded by the Vancouver Canucks in February and apparently near the end of his career, Felix Potvin has landed on his feet with the Kings.

And because he has provided clutch goaltending and a big psychological lift, the Kings might land in the playoffs.

Potvin on Saturday recorded his second successive shutout, fifth with the Kings and career-best sixth of the season, one of several strong efforts in the Kings' 4-0 rout of the Colorado Avalanche before a sellout crowd of 18,118.

Ziggy Palffy had his second two-goal game in a row and added two assists, Jozef Stumpel had a goal and two assists and Adam Deadmarsh scored against his former teammates, but Potvin ensured the league-leading Avalanche would remain winless (0-4) at Staples Center.

Potvin, acquired from Vancouver Feb. 15 for a late draft pick, made 19 saves to register his first back-to-back shutouts since January 1998, when he was with Toronto, and the first back-to-back shutouts by a King goalie since Rogie Vachon stymied Boston and St. Louis on Feb. 19 and 22, 1977. Although he wasn't tested often, he was solid when needed.

"For everybody, there is confidence in the locker room when you go in leading, 3-0, after the first period and you know 'The Cat' is going to step up," said Palffy, who has four goals in two games, two of them short-handed. "It's fun to play. It's a great feeling in the locker room."

Because of Potvin, who is 11-4-4 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 19 consecutive games, the Kings remain a point behind Phoenix for the last Western Conference playoff spot, with a game in hand.

"It's been a good second half," Potvin said of his rebirth. "I'm disappointed with what happened in Vancouver. The last two, three weeks I wasn't playing as good as I could. It wasn't terrible, but I knew I could turn it around."

Although the Kings relaxed after building a 3-0 lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, they didn't let up Saturday. After scoring on three of their six shots against Swiss-born rookie David Aebischer, they applied the final flourish at 10:18 of the third period on a goal by Deadmarsh, who was acquired from Colorado with defenseman Aaron Miller in the Rob Blake trade.

"This was a very emotional game for everyone, for me particularly because it was against my old team," Deadmarsh said. "But most important is we got two points.

"Our team has been working hard the last couple of weeks. That's how we're going to win hockey games. Hopefully, that's in our blood, and we're going to keep doing it."

Colorado, which has scored two goals in three games, never recovered from the Kings' early push. "We just got off to a really bad start," said center Peter Forsberg, who had no shots. "They were hungrier and they wanted the puck from the beginning."

Stumpel started the spree when he scored on a backhander from the left side of the crease at 8:30, during a power play. Less than two minutes later, Palffy stole the puck from Chris Drury in the Kings' end and raced up ice on a short-handed break with Stumpel. After faking five-time Norris Trophy winner Ray Bourque into expecting a pass, Palffy shot and beat Aebischer easily at 10:11.

On the Kings' third goal, Palffy beat Scott Parker to a centering pass by Stumpel and flicked the puck past Aebischer for his 36th goal, at 17:54. "We have to battle every game," Palffy said. "It's up to everybody if we're going to step up and play hard."

After goal judge Larry Evangelista illuminated the red light on a second-period shot by Deadmarsh that hit the post--referees Lance Roberts and Dennis LaRue initially allowed the goal but waved it off after video goal judge Jon Wenkalman saw another replay and ruled the puck hadn't crossed the goal line--Deadmarsh got an undisputed goal off a two-on-one.

"Adam has certainly played inspired hockey for about the last 10 days," King Coach Andy Murray said. "Ever since he has come back [from a hand injury] and his hand has been healthy, he has played the type of game we expected. He's that gritty, hard-nosed forward, and today it was nice to see him get rewarded in the third period."

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