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KINGS 3, VANCOUVER 2

Kings show some grit in winning third in a row

They beat the Canucks, 3-2, as defenseman Matt Greene blocks a shot in the closing seconds -- with his forehead.

March 10, 2009|Billy Witz

Jarret Stoll, being engaged to actress Rachel Hunter, knows pretty. But when his teammate Matt Greene ambled into the dressing room sporting a cut and a golf ball-sized knot above his right eye, now that was a thing of beauty.

"That's what wins games," Stoll said admiringly.

And in the Kings' case perhaps it did. Stoll scored two power-play goals and Teddy Purcell had a pair of assists for the Kings in a 3-2 win over Vancouver on Monday night at Staples Center.

But the signature play of their third consecutive victory was made by Greene, a defenseman who laid down on the ice in the final seconds to block a shot and did -- with his forehead.

As the horn sounded, Greene rose to his feet, congratulated goaltender Jonathan Quick and skated off the ice, a towel covering his face.

"Tonight was about digging in and finding a way," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "That's the type of play that was [by Greene]. Desperate times call for desperate plays."

The Kings will need plenty of plays like this and similar team efforts as they head into the season's final month.

They play only four more times at home, and in the next two weeks have back-to-back games at Vancouver and San Jose, and Boston and Pittsburgh.

The Kings' victory allowed them to leapfrog St. Louis into 12th place with 67 points. Though they're only three points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot, they must jump past four teams to get there.

It looked as if the Kings would have good fortune on their side right from the start.

Less than four minutes into the game, Anze Kopitar drew a faceoff back to Denis Gauthier at the right point. The defenseman lifted a harmless-looking wrist shot toward Roberto Luongo. Despite having a clear view, Luongo had the puck tick off his glove and into the net.

It was hard to determine which was the bigger surprise -- Luongo's giving up the goal or Gauthier's scoring it.

Luongo had won his last four starts at Staples Center, giving up only five goals total. Gauthier is known for hurting opponents but not with his stick. He went to the penalty box twice Monday and has been suspended twice this season for dangerous hits -- matching the number of goals he has scored.

The Kings' power play, which has been clicking lately, delivered again with both of Stoll's scores coming with a man advantage. He put the Kings ahead 2-0 at 12:17 of the first period, when Purcell's crisp pass across the crease allowed Stoll to shoot into an open net.

After Alex Burrows' slap shot from the blue line got under the glove of Quick to bring Vancouver within 2-1, the Kings recovered when Stoll flipped a rebound of Purcell's shot over Luongo's shoulder.

The two assists by Purcell followed his game-winning, power-play goal Saturday against Minnesota. After bouncing back and forth between Manchester and Los Angeles, Purcell has taken full advantage of the opportunities that have come with last week's trade of Patrick O'Sullivan.

The win did not come without its anxious moments. After Taylor Pyatt brought Vancouver to within 3-2 early in the third, the Kings survived a shot off the post by Daniel Sedin, and then the late scramble.

--

billywitz@yahoo.com

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