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Kings Go Missing Once More

They outshoot their opponent by a large margin, continuing a recent trend, but score only once in 38 attempts in 3-1 loss to Vancouver.

October 31, 2003|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The reasons to win were there for the taking, less than a stick's length away.

And yet the Kings offered up a quick list of why they lost, a compilation of questionable goaltending and poor touch around the net that left a crowd of 16,966 filing out of Staples Center amid a smattering of boos after a 3-1 loss Thursday to the Vancouver Canucks.

Vancouver scored once in every period, including Daniel Sedin's routine-angle goal that ended King goaltender Roman Cechmanek's night in the second period, and the Canucks didn't need to tap too far into the reserves of the NHL's highest-scoring offense.

In the end, the Kings continued a strange trend, outshooting a team by a sizable margin -- this time, 38-15 -- but failing to get more than one shot past Vancouver goaltender Dan Cloutier.

It wasn't the result the Kings wanted toward the end of an uneasy week that had the club looking forward to the sanctuary of a game.

Some players even viewed Thursday as a possible salve in the wake of two off-ice legal incidents earlier this week -- winger Ziggy Palffy's arrest Sunday after an alleged domestic altercation and defenseman Joe Corvo's guilty plea Monday to two counts of assault and battery in a Boston court.

The Kings also hoped to be bolstered by the return of defensemen Mattias Norstrom and Aaron Miller, who played in a game together for the first time this season after finally recovering from injuries.

And some added incentive: King winger Trent Klatt was playing for the first time against his former team after spending the last five seasons in Vancouver.

But a team doesn't get a victory for leading in the shots-on-goal department.

"We don't want our motto to be 'We played hard, we lost,' " Miller said.

The Kings trailed, 1-0, when Cechmanek allowed his second goal in seven shots and was promptly removed in favor of Cristobal Huet.

"Our goalie let some goals in that were savable," King Coach Andy Murray said. "I think our players were expecting us to do something at that point."

Said Cechmanek: "It was my fault. I played poor tonight. I didn't help. My teammates played a great game and I have to be better."

The Kings tried to shake things up before the game, juggling their scoring lines.

Derek Armstrong was bumped up a notch to No. 1 center in place of injured Jozef Stumpel, out because of a bruised chest. Luc Robitaille joined Armstrong on the top line with Palffy, and Brad Chartrand centered the No. 2 line.

Of course, the changes were primarily the product of an injury-riddled team that had Michael Cammalleri in the lineup for the first time since he sprained his knee in a preseason game, but won't have Stumpel back until at least Wednesday, possibly longer.

Plenty of shots were generated -- Klatt, Robitaille and Eric Belanger each had five -- but they weren't going in, regardless of how close they were.

"For some reason right now, they're not going in," Robitaille said. "You don't get point-blank shots like that and keep missing."

Belanger scored the Kings' only goal on a shot from above the right circle that fluttered into the net above Cloutier at 14:34 of the second period, cutting the Canucks' lead to 2-1.

Rookie Dustin Brown went without a point, but the Kings said Thursday they would keep the 18-year-old winger instead of sending him back to Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League.

Brown's three-year, $3.72-million contract would have rolled over and begun next season if Brown had been returned to his junior team before the Kings' 10th game, Saturday against Phoenix.

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