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NHL OPENING NIGHT

Kings Collapse at Finish

Dallas rallies for 5-4 win after L.A. led 4-0 after the first period behind two goals by Roenick.

October 06, 2005|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

DALLAS — This is what the designers of the new NHL craved.

Wide-open games, played at a pace more like the German Autobahn than the 101 Freeway at 5 p.m. on a weekday.

Goaltenders who don't resemble the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man and look more human.

And goals, goals, goals.

That went from blueprint to blue lines Wednesday. All that meant to the Kings was a 5-4 loss to the Dallas Stars and a bicarbonate-of-soda-kind-of-night for their coach. An agitated Andy Murray was clearly unhappy with the way his team brought hockey back after a lengthy lockout.

The Kings bolted from the gate but stumbled home, seeing a 4-0 first-period lead crumble under the weight of their own mistakes at the American Airlines Center.

They spent nearly a third of the game killing penalties -- 17 minutes 6 seconds -- then were done in when Dallas' Philippe Boucher flipped a puck on net and the rebound ricocheted off the skate of the Kings' Eric Belanger for the game winner with 4:46 left.

"When you don't knock people off the puck ... " Murray began saying after the game, then stopped to compose himself. "Tonight was an indication that if we're not able to play physical, it doesn't matter how much skill we have added to our team."

The Kings added a bushel of skill, bringing in Jeremy Roenick, Pavol Demitra and others. The NHL, though, added a few wrinkles as well, promising to call a tighter game to allow players offensive freedom and downsizing goaltender's equipment.

Those changes gave Wednesday's game wild mood swings, so wild that the Stars were booed off the ice after the first period and cheered after the second period.

The Stars scored three second-period goals, two on the power play, then tied the score midway through the third period on a goal by Bill Guerin just after the Kings' Dustin Brown stepped out of the penalty box.

That left Murray seething, as he seemed to divide his anger between how the Kings played and how the officials made calls.

"We took all those penalties because we didn't knock someone off the puck initially," Murray said.

Still, Murray said, "They were grabbing and pulling guys down at the end of the game. It was interesting how [the officials] were calling it."

The wicked pace seemed to work to the Kings' advantage for a time. They scored three goals on their first four shots. Roenick scored on his first two shots, sandwiched around Sean Avery's tapping in a rebound. Brown's one-timer with nine seconds left in the period gave the Kings a 4-0. lead.

"Scoring on the first shot took a lot of weight off the shoulders," said Roenick, who needed five stitches over his right eye after the game. "I'm going to look like a raccoon tomorrow, but it is just great to be back playing."

The Kings took six penalties in the second period, leading to two Dallas goals. Goaltender Mathieu Garon had a brilliant first period in his first game for the Kings, which included a post-to-post save on Mike Modano. The highlight reel ended for Garon when the second period began.

The Kings played as if they missed the memo about the NHL's putting an emphasis on eliminating obstruction. They took six penalties in the period to the Stars' one. Jason Arnott and Sergei Zubov scored power-play goals. Zubov also buried a shot at even strength.

"We should know the rules by now," the Kings' Luc Robitaille said. "If you get beat, you can't be hooking. Even if they don't score on the power play, you lose all the flow to your game."

KINGS TONIGHT

vs. Phoenix, 7:30, FSN West

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 1110.

Records -- Kings 0-1; Coyotes 0-1.

Record vs. Coyotes (2003-04) -- 3-2-1.

Update -- The last time these teams played, the Kings' Jeremy Roenick suffered a concussion after being hit by the Coyotes' Denis Gauthier. Lots of talk followed, including the comment by the Kings' Sean Avery that the hit "was typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on, running around and playing tough and not back anything up." Avery was told to apologize by the NHL, so all's forgiven and forgotten, right?

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