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Kings' Rally Caps It

Hockey: Smolinski's third goal, in overtime, completes amazing comeback against Senators.

January 17, 2001|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

OTTAWA — On its fifth birthday, the Corel Center turned into some kind of Madison Square Garden on the Ontario plains Tuesday night.

And in the second period, goalie Jamie Storr turned into the cavalry riding across that snow-drifted landscape to the Kings' rescue.

Bryan Smolinski's third goal of the game, scored on a headlong rush at 2:01 of overtime, gave the Kings a 7-6 victory over the Ottawa Senator and two of the most unlikely points they have earned in many a day.

It ended a game in which they rallied from 5-1 and 6-5 deficits.

"I'm speechless right now," said King Coach Andy Murray, who recovered enough to add, "This is a strange game, all the highs and lows. We know that our team can score goals."

And Ottawa usually prevents them. The Senators had given up an average of 2.4 goals a game before Tuesday night. They gave up more than that in a 2:12 span of the second period in a performance more like that of the New York Rangers.

"We forgot that the rink has two ends, and we let them back in a game that we clearly had control of," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose goal and assist went in vain.

King goalie Steve Passmore was touched for goals by Marian Hossa and Shawn McEachern in an opening period that shouldn't have required a Zamboni run at the Senators' end.

"It was like they had seven guys on the ice, the way they went from corner to corner," King defenseman Rob Blake said.

And it was as if the King defense had sprung a leak, with Passmore drowning under a deluge of out-numbered Ottawa rushes.

It got no better early in the second period when Alfredsson and Alexei Yashin scored power-play goals that were the results of some bad King penalties. And when Smolinski and Shane Hnidy exchanged goals to make it 5-1, Passmore was excused. Murray had been saving Storr for tonight's game at Toronto, but the Kings were getting embarrassed.

Storr came in with little pressure.

"It would be different if it was 4-2 or 4-3," he said. "When I went in, it was to just do my job."

He made a couple of saves, and then the Kings responded with:

* A goal by Mathieu Schneider on a pass from Ian Laperriere that made it 5-2 at 13:58;

* A goal by Smolinski, whom Steve Reinprecht spotted loitering alone near the net, that made it 5-3 at 15:12;

* A blast by Blake at 16:10 after shots by Eric Belanger and Nelson Emerson kept the puck alive in the Senators' end;

* And Luc Robitaille scored for the first time since Dec. 28 and only the second time since Dec. 14 to make it 5-5.

His goal, with only 44.5 seconds to play in the period, drew a harsh protest from the Senators, who believed goalie Patrick Lalime had stopped his first shot and Robitaille refused to take no for an answer. He poked the puck from between Lalime's legs into the net.

"It was on the ice and he was going down to get it," Robitaille explained.

And suddenly, there was a tie with 20 minutes to play.

At the other end of the ice, Storr had a great view.

"I came in to just do my job, but then it became a case of I'd better do my job," he said, laughing.

An exchange of third-period goals kept the tie intact. Ottawa scored first, a power-play goal by Karel Rachunek on an attempted pass from near the right boards for a 6-5 lead at 10:14.

"Rob Blake came to me and apologized," Storr said. "It went in off him. But if it hadn't, there was a guy [McEachern] ready to hit it anyway."

Robitaille answered with a power-play goal of his own, batting in a rebound of a shot by Ziggy Palffy at 11:36.

"We said, 'we can't lose this game,' " Robitaille said. "When you come back, good teams find a way to win games like this. This is a big, big win for us."

Smolinski finished it off with his solo rush in overtime.

Lubomir Visnovsky started things with a pass just ahead of a check that left him crumpled near the boards. Schneider was the recipient and he forwarded it to Smolinski near center ice.

"I saw Ziggy at the blue line and he picked their defenseman," Smolinski said. "I really didn't have a clear shot and I wanted to walk it into the middle. I just kind of poked it over [Lalime's] stick. It wasn't anything special."

Yes it was. It was the second three-goal game of his career, though it drew no hats from the 18,264 assembled in a building that isn't used to this kind of hockey.

A building that didn't exactly have a happy fifth birthday.

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