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Kings Find Room for a Tie

In tightly played contest against Vancouver, they get goals from Schneider and Armstrong, and game ends in a 2-2 deadlock.

October 20, 2002|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

The NHL's crackdown on obstruction, which is supposed to increase scoring this season, certainly didn't have an impact on Saturday's game between the Kings and Vancouver.

With skating room hard to come by the entire game, Mathieu Schneider and Derek Armstrong scored third-period goals for the Kings, who played to a 2-2 tie with the Canucks in front of 16,762 at Staples Center.

"We are two similar types of teams that are successful playing with a lot of speed," King captain Mattias Norstrom said. "But this wasn't a fast game either because both teams eliminated each other pretty well or two teams that did not play up to their potential."

Vancouver, which played without injured veteran Trevor Linden, struggled to find any offensive rhythm in a scoreless opening period, but the Canucks (2-2-2) did a better job of controlling the puck early in the second period, and that led to successive power-play opportunities.

But Vancouver, which tied the Mighty Ducks on Friday, was unable to score thanks to a couple of highlight stops by King goaltender Felix Potvin, who finished with 17 saves.

Potvin, however, was not on top of his game minutes later in the period when Vancouver winger Todd Warriner launched a harmless looking shot from just inside the blue line. Warriner scored his second goal of the season when Potvin seemed to be screened on the shot at 13:38.

Although the Kings had plenty of chances, they either shot poorly or Vancouver's No. 2 goaltender Peter Skudra was able to make the save for the first two periods.

Bryan Smolinski, who injured his right leg against Colorado on Thursday and was not expected to be in the lineup against the Canucks, was involved in plays that had the best scoring opportunities against Skudra in the second.

Early in the period, Smolinski made a nice pass to teammate Craig Johnson on a 2-on-1 breakaway, but Johnson was unable to get off a solid shot. Later in the period, Smolinski had another breakaway, but his shot from the slot missed wide left.

With Ziggy Palffy, who has played in only two games this season, being placed on the injured reserve list because of a left groin strain, the Kings needed someone to pick up the slack offensively. Schneider and Armstrong did just that in the third.

Schneider tied the score, 1-1, on his first shift of the period when he scored with a backhand shot from the right circle 41 seconds into the third. Schneider appeared to be looking to get the puck to a teammate, but his pass eluded two Vancouver defenders, including Skudra, for his second goal of the season.

The Kings took their first lead of the game when Armstrong, acquired in a summer trade from the New York Rangers, scored his first NHL goal since Dec. 27, 1997.

Defenseman Andreas Lilja set up the score when, from the left circle, he found Armstrong in front of the crease at 5:57 to put the Kings ahead, 2-1.

Armstrong was recalled from Manchester of the American Hockey League on Friday.

The Canucks, who have not defeated the Kings in Los Angeles since Jan. 7, 1997, were able to tie the score in the third period when they took advantage of the Kings' failure to clear the puck out of their zone.

Vancouver captain Markus Naslund fired home a shot from the high slot that beat Potvin low to his glove side at 10:31.

"It was a slow game that didn't have a lot of big hits," Norstrom said. "The game was filled with tight-checking and a lot of cycling on both sides. It just wasn't a fast game."

The Kings hit the road for a five-game trip starting at Detroit on Wednesday. Los Angeles will play 13 of its next 15 games away from Staples Center.

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