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KINGS FYI

Terry Murray pleased with Kings' power-play strategy

Justin Williams' one-time goal against the Avalanche is what the coach has in mind.

December 22, 2010|By Mike DiGiovanna

It was a meaningless goal, really, a power-play effort that capped a 5-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night, but to Kings Coach Terry Murray, it was a thing of beauty and, he hopes, a sign of things to come.

The Kings tend to get too fine with the puck sometimes, especially on the power play, opting for the extra pass instead of the shot, but that all changed with just under three minutes left in Colorado.

Jarret Stoll won a faceoff in the Avalanche end, drawing the puck to teammate Jack Johnson at the blue line. Johnson snapped a cross-ice pass to Justin Williams, who one-timed a shot past Colorado goaltender Craig Anderson for the final goal in what may have been the Kings' most impressive win this season.

Elapsed time from faceoff to goal: five seconds.

"That's the kind of shot mentality we have to have," Murray said after Wednesday's practice in preparation for Thursday night's game against Edmonton at Staples Center. "That has to be a selling point every day in practice. For me, that's the first option.

"Often, we're looking to pass the puck into the net, making highlight-reel plays. We have the ability to do that once in a while, but inevitably, there are long stretches of time before you see the next one."

The goal was the Kings' 21st in 126 power-play tries this season, a 16.7% success rate that ranks 21st in the NHL. With more of a shoot-first mentality, Murray thinks the Kings can improve on the power play.

"We have a presence with guys like Johnson and [Drew] Doughty on the back end," Murray said. "Those kinds of players can really bring it to the net, and that's what we have to sell them on."

Sturm plays

Left wing Marco Sturm, acquired from Boston on Dec. 11, made his Kings debut Tuesday night, playing almost 12 minutes in a low-key, fourth-line role against the Avalanche, his first game action since he had major right-knee surgery May 18.

Sturm will remain on the fourth line against Edmonton, but Murray expects the veteran to work his way into more meaningful minutes.

"When the trade was made, I thought he was going to jump in and have an impact with our No. 1 line immediately," Murray said. "But in reality, you have a player who is coming back from a very serious injury, and as you saw [Tuesday] night, it's [about] getting into the game, getting your legs under yourself in stressful situations and finding your game again.

"But I do see him eventually playing on that left side with [Anze] Kopitar and [Dustin] Brown. When he's full strength, healthy and ready to go, he's a dynamic guy with speed, a north-south player. He can put some points up on the board."

Going Greene

Defenseman Matt Greene, sidelined since he took a hit to the head Dec. 13 at Detroit, was a full participant in practice Wednesday, but Murray said he will not play against the Oilers on Thursday.

"He looks good and he feels good," Murray said of Greene. "Hopefully he'll be cleared and ready to go" for Sunday's game against the Ducks.

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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