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Floater Lifts Kings to Win

Smolinski's fluttering shot beats Lalime for 3-2 victory over Senators. Cammalleri has assist in debut.

November 09, 2002|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

OTTAWA — Bryan Smolinski knew he was bucking the odds.

When he fired a 35-foot wrist shot toward the net in the third period Friday night, he did so with the knowledge that very few NHL goals are scored on such attempts without the puck being deflected or the goaltender screened.

So Smolinski was as surprised as anyone when his fluttering shot cleanly beat Patrick Lalime with 14:33 to play, giving the Kings a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in front of 16,926 at the Corel Centre.

"It was kind of a knuckler, kind of surprised him a little bit," Smolinski said. "I wanted to let a harder shot go, but [the puck] just kind of rolled in front of me a little bit. I saw the defender's stick coming to try to poke check it and I just kind of shot it at the net, just got rid of it real quick.

"It was just lucky that it kind of dipped on him. I saw him go down for a hard shot -- he was ready for it -- but he kind of got caught in no man's land."

Lalime blamed poor footwork.

The shot, which sailed over the goaltender's right shoulder and into the upper left corner of the net, ended a two-game losing streak for the Kings, who got major contributions from the two new faces in their lineup, veteran defenseman Aaron Miller and 20-year-old rookie center Michael Cammalleri.

Miller, who sat out training camp and the season's first 13 games after abdominal surgery, played a game-high 24 minutes 37 seconds in his season debut.

"It's my first game in six months, so it was a little bit of a struggle just handling the puck and getting into the game," he said, "but it went better than I expected."

Cammalleri, making his NHL debut after his recall Thursday from the minors, played on the top line with Adam Deadmarsh and Ziggy Palffy and registered his first NHL point, assisting on a second-period goal by Mathieu Schneider.

To the delight of his parents, Leo and Ruth, who drove up from Toronto, Cammalleri helped the Kings erase a one-goal deficit for the second time, feeding a pass in front to the streaking Schneider for a power-play goal.

"It's a dream come true," said Cammalleri, an All-American at Michigan who gave up his senior season of eligibility to sign with the Kings. "I grew up in Toronto, dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League my whole life and worked real hard to get an opportunity. It was a lot of fun."

Continuing an eight-game trip with the first of five consecutive games against Canadian teams, the Kings spotted the Senators a 1-0 lead on a first-period power-play goal by Wade Redden.

They pulled even on a second-period goal by Erik Rasmussen, his first with the Kings since the trade that brought him from the Buffalo Sabres last summer.

Another power-play goal, this one by Radek Bonk at 8:33 of the second period, gave the Senators the lead again, but Schneider's goal tied the score. Cammalleri took a pass from Palffy behind the net, carried it to the other side and slid a pass to Schneider, who lifted a shot over Lalime from just outside the crease.

"Schneids made a great play to get open and I just gave it to him," Cammalleri said. "He seems to find the net whenever he gets it in that spot."

Another rookie, Alexander Frolov, assisted on the winner, slipping a pass ahead to Smolinski, who sped alone into the attacking zone before unleashing what he called a "Phil Niekro" knuckleball from the right point.

Goaltender Felix Potvin took it from there, making 10 of his 28 saves in the third period.

"It's nice when you hear the buzzer at the end," he said.

For Potvin, maybe, but not for Lalime.

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