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DUCK-KING REPORT

Kings Miss Defense of Daddy Norstrom

March 01, 2004|Mike Bresnahan and Chris Foster | Times Staff Writers

The King defense, held together by saliva and epoxy resin, went without another player Sunday against the Mighty Ducks.

King captain Mattias Norstrom did not play because his wife, Kristin, delivered the couple's second child, Emma. Norstrom was about to put on his gear before the team's pregame warmups when he received the call that his wife was set to deliver.

Not coincidentally, the King defense labored throughout Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Ducks, giving up more than five goals for only the third time this season. Jaroslav Modry was the only King defenseman with more than 110 games of NHL experience.

"I had a contract with his wife that she wasn't going to have the baby until Monday," said King Coach Andy Murray, the only light moment in an otherwise dour postgame news conference. "She's going to have to talk to the players' association because she didn't follow through with that contract. She had the baby too early."

The Kings have been without defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky since Jan. 31 and Aaron Miller since Dec. 10, both because of a pinched nerve in the neck and shoulder areas.

"For sure, [Norstrom]'s missed," right wing Trent Klatt said. "Can't use that as an excuse. We've been swimming up that river for months now. It's another something else we have to deal with. We didn't do it very well."

Norstrom became the second King defenseman to miss a game for childbirth reasons. Modry missed a Feb. 16 game against the New York Islanders because his wife, Jodi, gave birth to the couple's third child.

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The thought did occur to Duck goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Murray pulled his team's goalie for the final five minutes of the Ducks' victory.

At one point, Giguere retrieved the puck in the corner and had time to set up. But instead of firing a shot up ice, he flipped the puck out of the Duck zone.

"I thought, 'Go for it,' but I changed my mind at the last second," Giguere said. "I just wanted to get the puck out."

Giguere did the rest of his job well. He stopped 41 of 44 shots for the game.

The Kings spent about seven minutes with an empty net, Murray pulled his goalie during a Duck penalty with eight minutes left. Yet the Ducks, who have only two empty-net goals on the season, could not take advantage. Petr Sykora came the closest, hitting the side of the King net on a two-on-one rush.

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Steve Rucchin played his 600th game for the Ducks, becoming the second player in team history to reach that level. Paul Kariya played 606 games.

Defenseman Ruslan Salei played his 500th game, the most by a defenseman in team history.

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King defenseman Denis Grebeshkov collected his first NHL point, an assist on Derek Armstrong's first-period goal. Grebeshkov, selected 18th overall by the Kings in the 2002 draft, was playing his second NHL game.... The Kings did not designate a captain Sunday to take Norstrom's place, although Modry temporarily became an alternate captain.

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