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Kings can't finish the job in 4-2 loss to New York Rangers

They outshoot the Rangers, 10-1, in the third period but have trouble handling the puck and fail to take advantage of three power plays.

October 15, 2009|Kevin Baxter

NEW YORK — Sure the NHL's Pacific Division standings look a little odd right now, what with the Kings in first place and all.

But Kings fans might want to enjoy it while they can. Because while the team's climb was hardly a fluke -- they beat two of last year's playoff teams during the four-game winning streak that carried them to the top of the division -- in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers, they showed they haven't completely put last season's last-place finish behind them.

That was evident in a mistake-filled third period in which the Kings outshot the Rangers, 10-1, but had trouble handling the puck and failed to take advantage of three power plays.

If that's the bad news, though, here's the good news: For the first two periods, the Kings held their own against a physical Rangers team that is riding a five-game winning streak and a 12-game regular-season home unbeaten streak that dates to last season.

And that, Kings Coach Terry Murray said, actually makes the loss something of a victory for his young team.

"There's a lot of things you take out of this," he said. "But the most important thing for me was the effort. That kind of an attitude to bring the emotional and bring the physical game is very important for not only a young hockey club, but for any team in the NHL in order to make the playoffs."

Playoffs? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. But Murray could make an argument that if a couple of bad bounces had gone the other way, the Kings might have had a victory on the scoreboard too.

Erik Ersberg, making his first start of the season in goal, had a rough night, knocking as many pucks into his own net as his teammates put past Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

New York's Vaclav Prospal was credited with a first-period power-play goal on a shot that deflected off Ersberg's blocker and former King Brian Boyle got a second-period score on one that ricocheted off the goal, then off Ersberg's skate.

New York's first goal, which also came on a power play, was of the more standard variety with Prospal, left unattended on the edge of the crease, redirecting a slap shot from Michael Del Zotto into the net at 3:11 of the opening period.

The deficit was the first in five games for the Kings.

The Kings answered 70 seconds later on a goal by Ryan Smyth, who came around the net to tip in Davis Drewiske's shot from the left wing.

After Boyle's first goal as a Ranger gave New York a 3-1 lead early in the second period, Michal Handzus cut the margin again with a power-play goal for the Kings.

"We've matured," Murray said.

Added Kings captain Dustin Brown: "Going into the third we felt this game was ours to have if we wanted it."

They would get no closer, though. At 4:22 of the final period, the speedy Marian Gaborik took a pretty pass from Prospal, skated into the Kings' zone with one defender to beat, then found the back of the net with a wrister for his league-leading sixth goal of the season.

But while the Kings didn't win the game, they did win some respect.

"That," Rangers Coach John Tortorella said, "is a good team."


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