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Kings, Fans Are at Home

Hockey: L.A. enjoys impressive support at the Pond and responds with a 4-2 victory over the Mighty Ducks.

January 22, 2002|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

This has more or less become the Kings' vacation home.

They have brought 12,000 or so of their closest friends to the Arrowhead Pond a couple times this season and always gone home with souvenir points. Monday was more of the same.

By the time a chippy evening was done, the Kings had a gritty 4-2 victory over the Mighty Ducks in front of 17,079 mostly "Go Kings Go" fans. The Kings have played twice in Anaheim this season and have four points to show for it.

Jason Allison scored two goals, snapping a seven-game goal-less streak. Goalie Felix Potvin could be knocked down--by the Ducks' Kevin Sawyer--but not out, as he stopped 29 of 31 shots. When Ian Laperriere tipped home a goal for a 4-2 lead 6 minutes 26 seconds into the third period, the Kings were on their way to their eighth victory in 10 games.

This was a game in which players on both sides showed off their stick work ... hooking ... high sticking ... cross-checking. The type of work that shows up on a desk in the league office rather than on highlight reels.

The Kings' Craig Johnson left the game with a bloody right eye after getting a high stick from Duck defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski. The Ducks' Ruslan Salei received a bloody lip after being cross-checked into the boards.

And so it went.

The Ducks, 1-10-1 in their last 12 games, came out to a hostile crowd in their own arena, but led by a goal after a rough first period.

As usual, that did not stand.

Vishnevski caught Johnson in the eye and was sent off for high sticking. Allison then bulled his way through two defenders and fired a no-look backhand shot. Goalie Steve Shields got a piece of the puck, but it trickled into the net to tie the score 2:51 into the second period.

Nelson Emerson gave the Kings the lead, 3-2, when he skated from behind the net and fired the puck, which went off Salei's skate and into the net at 15:29 of the period.

"These type of games are getting hard to swallow," Duck Coach Bryan Murray said. "If you're losing 6-1, you just say you're not good enough and move on."

In lieu of players who can consistently put the puck into the net, Murray reshuffled the same old deck, trying to find a combination, any combination, that might work.

Noticeably absent was right wing Marty McInnis, a healthy scratch for only the second time in three-plus seasons with the Ducks. The only other time was when his wife gave birth to the couple's second child last February.

This time the labor pains belonged to McInnis, who has only two goals in his last 22 games.

"When things aren't going well, a little shake-up sometimes wakes guys up," Paul Kariya said. "Sometimes it brings a little fresh energy to the team."

The Ducks got that, but it wasn't exactly positive energy.

Things turned ugly midway through the first period when Potvin went behind the net to retrieve the puck and was dropped by Sawyer, who was then jumped by several Kings.

Laperriere and Sawyer received fighting majors and Sawyer was also slapped with a major charging penalty, setting up the Kings with a full five-minute power play.

Allison got it going, chipping in a cross-ice pass from Steve Heinz for a 1-0 lead 13:01 into the first period.

But before the Kings could capitalize any more, they filled up their own penalty box. Adam Deadmarsh was sent off for elbowing, the first of three consecutive King penalties.

Jason York lined up a shot from the blue line and Mike Leclerc, parked in front of the net, deflected the puck past Potvin to tie the score, 1-1, at 16:33.

"We got to find a way to get a couple people together that, hopefully, can do a little more offensively," Murray said. "We've done a good job defensively. The defensemen who play together seem to accommodate each other. They understand how we have to play. We got find somehow or other [a way] to create a little more offense."

Somehow they did, and it even involved German Titov, the Ducks' free-agent boondoggle from last season. Titov forechecked his way to forcing a turnover with time running out in the first period. He then fired a pass to Jeff Friesen, who buried a shot from the slot with 14.5 seconds left.

Said Friesen: "Tito just made a great pass and I saw the top part of net and just ripped it."

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