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KING-DUCK REPORT

A Confident Storr Set for Playoff Push

March 04, 2003|Lonnie White and Chris Foster | Times Staff Writers

Even when he was spending his time watching starter Felix Potvin play night after night, King goaltender Jamie Storr was getting ready for this moment.

"In a game, you're going to have highs and lows," said Storr, who has been the Kings' main man in goal since Potvin went down with a knee injury in late January. "You have to be able to control them. If you let them get too high one way or too low another, it's not going to get a positive result. You can't do that now, especially with only 17 games remaining in the season."

The Kings are counting on Storr's confident mind-set to help their late-season push for the playoffs, which has them in 10th place in the Western Conference, four points behind eighth-place Edmonton.

Things didn't look too good for Storr last week, when he was pulled in the first period at Pittsburgh. The Kings ended up rallying from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Penguins, 5-3, with rookie Cristobal Huet in goal. Storr started the next game at Columbus and had a so-so night in a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jackets.

But he bounced back with a strong effort Saturday in the Kings' 4-1 victory over Atlanta and is approaching the Ducks as one more team in the way.

"This game may have a ton of importance to a lot of people because both Southern California teams are playing for something this late in the season, but for us, this game is as important as any other game," Storr said. "Regardless of who we play, we have to win."

*

There is little question where the Mighty Ducks' power has been the last two months.

The line of Paul Kariya, Adam Oates and Petr Sykora has 25 goals and 72 points in 25 games since being teamed. However, those three have all but gone it alone in recent games, which may lead Coach Mike Babcock to disband the group temporarily.

The Ducks have scored 15 goals in their last nine games, with Kariya, Oates and Sykora accounting for seven. The Ducks have won only three of their last nine games, with Kariya, Oates and Sykora each getting a game-winning goal.

During Monday's practice Babcock put Kariya with Steve Rucchin and Stanislav Chistov, and had Mike Leclerc skating with Oates and Sykora. "They were about the only line generating offense," Babcock said. "We rode them hard. We need other guys to get going."

The other Duck forwards have four goals in the last nine games, two by Rucchin. He and Kariya had teamed earlier in the season.

"We might be good to spread the offense out a little bit," Kariya said. "If we have a little more balance, it will be difficult on other teams. Any time you have productive line, obviously the other team is going to try to take it away."

Kariya, Oates and Sykora will remain on the No. 1 power-play unit with Rucchin and defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh.

The Ducks also may be feeling the effects of being without center Andy McDonald. McDonald, who has 10 goals and 21 points in 46 games, has missed 20 of the last 22 games because of a concussion. The line he centered usually was the Ducks' most energetic.

McDonald will be reexamined Wednesday and said he hoped to begin light workouts Thursday or Friday.

TONIGHT

Mighty Ducks vs. Kings, 7:30,

Fox Sports Net

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- KSPN (710), KLPS (830).

Records -- Kings 28-29-4-4, Ducks 30-24-8-4.

Season series -- Kings lead, 2-1-1.

Update -- Mathieu Schneider is seventh among defensemen in scoring with 42 points, and Ian Laperriere is tied for the NHL lead in short-handed assists with four. Rucchin has four goals and Kariya three in four games against the Kings this season.

Tickets -- (888) 546-4752.

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