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Trent Hunter gets promotion as Kings revamp top three lines

Although the veteran has no goals and two assists in 11 games, he is given a spot on the first line alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.

November 27, 2011|By Helene Elliott
  • Kings winger Trent Hunter checks New Jersey's Bryce Salvador during a game at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Kings winger Trent Hunter checks New Jersey's Bryce Salvador during… (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

A few good shifts and missing an open net in the third period of the Kings' 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday apparently earned winger Trent Hunter a spot on the first line Monday against San Jose.

Coach Terry Murray, whose team has scored seven goals in the last four games, revamped his top three lines in practice Sunday to promote Hunter. Although the veteran has no goals and two assists in 11 games and has averaged only 11 minutes and nine seconds' ice time, he's expected to play on Anze Kopitar's right. Dustin Brown, a right-handed shooter, will move from the right side to the left, where he has played before.

Murray also reunited former Flyers teammates Simon Gagne and Mike Richards and shifted Jarret Stoll from center to right wing to skate alongside them. Rookie Andrei Loktionov, who had no goals in six games at left wing, will return to his natural center spot with Kyle Clifford on his left and Justin Williams on the right. Williams has not scored in 14 games.

Only the fourth line of Colin Fraser between Ethan Moreau and Kevin Westgarth is expected to remain the same against the Pacific division-leading Sharks.

Even for Murray, who constantly reconfigures his lines, these were dramatic changes. But Murray was unwilling to continue with lines he thought should have been shooting more.

"We have to score some greasy, ugly goals as they say, and that might be the crack in the door that we can kick open and start to feel more comfortable scoring goals," he said Saturday.

Stoll scored Saturday for the first time in 18 games. Stoll, Hunter and Clifford forced the Blackhawks into a turnover and Stoll took a fluttering shot from the right circle that sailed over Corey Crawford's left arm at 12:02 of the second period.

That matched the wraparound goal Andrew Brunette scored in the first period. However, the Blackhawks regained the lead at 16:38 of the second period. Jonathan Toews won a faceoff in the Kings' zone and got the puck back to the point to Duncan Keith, whose shot was deflected by Viktor Stalberg. The puck caromed off the boards to Toews, who easily beat Jonathan Quick for the winner.

"Obviously it's not going our way right now. We've got to fight through it," Kopitar said Saturday. "You've got to work harder to get it back on track. There's only one way to turn it around, and that's with hard work."

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