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Kings Creep Up On Canucks


The Los Angeles Kings, who have blown some close games before, finally found a way to change the ending.

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    Forum: Can the Kings keep winning without Rob Blake?

  • squandering a 2-0 lead and allowing the Vancouver Canucks to tie the game 3-3 with 5:38 left in regulation, the Kings responded on Vladimir Tsyplakov's goal with 3:57 remaining to pull out a 4-3 victory Monday night.

    The win snapped a four-game (0-3-1) winless skid and was billed as a major confidence boost for a club missing top defenseman Rob Blake (broken right foot) and last year's leading scorer, Jozef Stumpel (hip flexor, abdominal strain).

    "This means a lot," Tsyplakov said. "We're frustrated, so it was a big win for us. ... Things are are going to get better. We're going to get our confidence back."

    Added Luc Robitaille, who led the Kings with two goals, "Tsyplakov's was a really big goal for us, especially after they came back and tied it. ... To come back and bounce back and score, it was huge for our team."

    Tsyplakov was parked in front of the Vancouver net when defenseman Sean O'Donnell wristed a shot from the point. The puck hit Canucks defenseman Mattias Ohlund's skate and bounced to Tsyplakov, who stuffed a shot under goalie Corey Hirsch.

    "The puck came to me and I shot," said Tsyplakov, whose goal was his third of the season and second in consecutive games. "I was kind of surprised. The puck bounced and finally came to me."

    The victory was only the Kings' third in their last 19 visits to Vancouver, going 3-14-2 over that span.

    The loss ended ancouver's home unbeaten string at four games (3-0-1) and was played before an announced crowd of 13,906, the smallest since GM Place opened in September 1995.

    Canucks coach Mike Keenan was disappointed after his team battled back to tie the game.

    "I think we weren't tight enough on the defense, and I think our coverage was loose in front of the net," said Keenan, describing what he saw on the Kings' winning goal. "It was a very critical breakdown at that time of the game."

    Glen Murray, who had a goal and an assist for the Kings, opened the scoring 5:22 into the game when he beat Garth Snow on a short-handed breakaway. It was the Kings' fifth short-handed goal of the season, tops in the NHL.

    Robitaille scored on a rebound 66 seconds later to make it 2-0 and knocked out Snow, who was replaced by Hirsch. Snow had missed the last three games with a hip flexor.

    Alexander Mogilny, playing in his 600th NHL game, made it 2-1 with a 35-footer for a short-handed goal with 8:13 left in the opening period.

    Peter Zezel scored on a deflection to tie it 2-2 early in the second period, but the Kings regained the lead later in the period when Murray set up Robitaille for a breakaway.

    The Canucks, who only managed three shots in the third period, pulled even again when Mogilny stripped O'Donnell of the puck behind the Kings' net and set up Markus Naslund for a one-timer in front. The goal extended Naslund's point streak to six games, in which he has recorded four goals and three assists.

    "We've been kind of playing Murphy's hockey where anything that can go wrong does go wrong," Kings coach Larry Robinson said. "We were just looking to finally get a good bounce, and one finally came our way."

    Kings goalie Manny Legace, getting his fifth straight start in place of injured goalies Jamie Storr (groin strain) and Stephane Fiset (groin strain), stopped 17 shots to improve his record to 2-4-2. Legace was especially sharp in the first five minutes when he foiled Vancouver rookies Bill Muckalt and Peter Schaefer, who both got in alone behind the Kings' defense.

    The Kings' power play continued to misfire, going 0-for-5. They are 5-for-62 with the man advantage this season.

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