It didn't take long for the "prima donnas" on the Los Angeles Kings to get the message Larry Robinson was unhappy and to do something about it.
Criticized by Robinson after a 1-0 loss to the Islanders 24 hours before, the Kings capitalized on two errors by Devils defenseman Sheldon Souray and beat New Jersey 4-0 on Wednesday night behind a combined 40-save performance by Stephane Fiset and Manny Legace.
"We went through a series of meetings today," said Kings captain Rob Blake, who scored a shorthanded goal following Souray's second mistake to give Los Angeles a 2-0 second-period lead. "Pretty much all of it was effort."
"We weren't getting in the way, causing turnovers like we did tonight. When the effort is there, we're a tough team to beat. When it's not there, we don't have enough talent to win."
Robinson tried to back off his prima donna comment on Wednesday, saying he was expecting more from his top players than he got against the Islanders.
"We weren't getting a solid effort from them," Robinson said. "That's disturbing at times."
Craig Johnson got the game-winner in the first period, scoring his first goal of the season on a 2-on-1 break after Souray failed to keep the puck in the Kings' zone.
Defenseman Steve Duchesne and Vladimir Tsyplakov scored in the third period as the Kings closed out a five-game road trip with a 2-2-1 record.
"We can read Larry's face," Duchesne said. "We know when he's a little upset. W had a good meeting this morning. Everything is positive all the time with Larry. That's what makes him different from a lot of coaches. You learn from your mistakes."
That's what Souray hopes to do after what he said was the worst game of his one-plus seasons in the league. He spent all but one shift on the bench in the third period.
"I think what happened was deserved," Souray said. "Of course you want to play and go out in the third. You just have to try harder."
The shutout was the first of the season for Los Angeles and it came in a game where the Kings were outshot 40-18, including 17-7 in the first period. It was the second shared shutout in Kings history. Mario Lessard and Doug Keans beat Boston 3-0 on Feb. 20, 1980.
Fiset, who had been sidelined with a groin strain on his right side, stopped the first 23 Devils shots before having to leave with 6:31 to play in the second period after injuring the left side of his groin.
Legace finished off the shutout, although he caught a break when Bobby Holik hit the goal post on a power play late in the second period after the goaltender lost his catching glove. He also survived being run over by Bobby Carpenter on a third-period breakaway.
Johnson gave Los Angeles the only goal it needed with 5:15 left in the first period. Souray failed to keep a clearing attempt by Kings defenseman Mattias Norstrom in the offensive zone and Johnson broke in on Martin Brodeur and beat him with a shot from the left circle.
Blake intercepted a clearing pass by Souray near the Devils' blue line and broke in alone on Brodeur, beating him with a shot over his shoulder at 11:50 of the second.
Duchesne sent the crowd at the Continental Airlines Arena to the exits with a power-play goal 9:31 into the third period.
The Kings came into the game with the NHL's top penalty-killing unit and they thwarted five extra-man chances by the Devils. Los Angeles has now allowed one power-play goal in 46 chances.
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