Jozef Stumpel loves life with the Los Angeles Kings. And with good reason.
Stumpel, acquired from Boston in August, has become one of the NHL's top scorers in his brief stay with the Kings.
Tuesday night, Stumpel had three goals and an assist in a 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. He has 17 goals and 40 assists in 53 games to put him in a seventh-place tie with Pittsburgh's Ron Francis in the scoring race.
"I don't care about the attention other scorers might get," said Stumpel, who has 10 points in four games this season against Calgary. "I want the team to be successful first. Maybe then I'll get more
Kings defenseman Rob Blake, who scored the winning goal off an assist from Stumpel, compared his new teammate to former Los Angeles star Wayne Gretzky for his ability to find open players.
"It's been a long time since we had a guy that when we're in the open, he'll find us," Blake said. "Wayne was the last guy that could do that, now fortunately, we have Jozef. Just get in the open and the puck's going to be there."
Stumpel said he can understand why some people might have believed the Kings would not be a factor coming into the season. But the team's success hasn't come as a surprise to him.
The Kings have lost only once in their last nine games (7-1-1) to improve their record to 24-20-9.
"We came into training camp and I saw right away that we would have a pretty good team," Stumpel said. "We have the size, speed and muscles, we've got everything."
Stumpel opened the scoring to set off a wild first three minutes of the game.
Stumpel and Glen Murray, along with Calgary's Hnat Domenichelli, all scored within a span of 1:05 starting at the two-minute mark.
Stumpel's second goal came off a turnover by Flames center Cory Stillman at the blue line, sending three Los Angeles players in alone on goalie Dwayne Roloson. Russ Courtnall also scored for the Kings.
Domenichelli's second goal cut the Kings' lead to 3-2 at 10:20 of the second period. Calgary defenseman James Patrick tied the game at 16:14 when he beat rarely used backup goalie Frederic Chabot.
But the Flames failed to carry their momentum in the third period.
"We weren't that bad in the first five minutes, but I think we got frustrated when we didn't score on a power play," Domenichelli said. "If we scored, we were up 4-3, we killed a penalty and then they got a goal."
"On a team going through a slump every little thing gets put under the microscope ... once you lose a few games you start to second guess yourself."
Chabot was replaced in goal by rookie Jamie Storr late in second period.
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