Minnesota Too Much for Kings

Times Staff Writer

When the Kings won seven straight games earlier this season the skeptics said it wouldn't last.

They were right. Boy were they right.

Center Keith Acton and left wing Tom McCarthy scored three goals each as the Minnesota North Stars came from behind and beat the Kings Thursday night, 8-3, before 11,099 fans at the Forum. Instead of booing the Kings, the fans cheered the North Stars.

The Kings, winless in their last seven games (0-4-3), collapsed after taking a 2-0 lead early in the first period.

Trailing 2-0 after goals by King center Bernie Nicholls and left wing Dave Taylor, the North Stars scored four consecutive goals in the first and second periods.

It was the second time in three games that the Kings have blown an early lead. They led Boston 4-0 after the first period last Thursday night, but the Bruins came back to tie the Kings in overtime, 6-6.

The Kings eventually switched goalies agains the North Stars, removing starter Bob Janecyk, who had given up five goals on 16 shots in the first two periods. Darren Eliot replaced him for the third period.

Eliot wasn't much more effective than Janecyk, through, giving up two goals to McCarthy in a 21-second span midway through the period. Eliot then yielded a goal to Steve Payne with 2:10 left.

McCarthy, who had a goal in the first period, got his second with 11:14 left in the third period and added his third with 10:53 left. It was his third hat trick. He also had one assist.

Acton had a goal in the first period and two more in the second for his third hat trick. Teammate Neal Broten had three assists.

The Kings jumped on the North Stars early, scoring twice in a two-minute span. Then they went to a finesse game to try to protect the lead instead of pressing the attack.

Nicholls scored his 23rd goal of the season at 5:13 off a nice pass in the right faceoff circle from Jim Fox to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. Two minutes later, Dave Taylor deflected a shot off teammate Steve Shutt's skate and into the net, giving the Kings their 2-0 lead.

Acton led the North Stars' comeback, scoring once in the first period and twice in the second.

With the teams playing four-on-four after penalties to Harold Snepsts of the North Stars and Phil Sykes of the Kings, the North Stars scored their fist goal.

Acton took a pass from Curt Giles in the slot and put the puck in the left corner of the net for his first goal at 9:47 of the first period.

Acton helped the North Stars tie it at 2-2, when he knocked Janecyk down with a slap shot. Janecyk got up but only after McCarthy had put in the rebound.

Janecyk made a spectacular diving save on a breakaway by Broten just a few minutes later to keep the North Stars from hoing ahead.

The Kings, however, were generally playing poor hockey. They failed to score on their first two power plays, and were penalized for having too many men on the ice on the first one as they changed lines.

The Kings, who had the first six shots in the game, outshot the North Stars, 13-8, in the first period.

The North Stars took the lead just 48 seconds into the second period when Acton scored his second goal of the game. Broten drew Janecyk out of the new and passed to Acton, who shot past King wing Steve Shutt, who was guarding the net.

The North Stars out shot the Kings 4-1 in the first 5 1/2 minutes of the second period to take command of the game.

Acton scored his third goal on a power play with 6:51 of the second period to give Minnesota a 4-2 lead.

Nicholls scored his second goal on a power play with 6:15 left in the second period when he put in a rebound of a shot by Brian MacLellan to close the score to 4-3.

The North Stars, however, scored just a minute later when right wing Brian Bellows took a pass from left wing Tom McCarthy and put it in to give Minnesota a 5-3 lead.

King Notes

There was a moment of silence before the game for John (Whitey) Widing, who died Sunday at 38 in British Columbia. He played eight seasons for the Kings (1969-1977), appearing in 502 games. He ranked seventh in goals scored for the Kings with 131, sixth in assists with 211, and seventh in total points with 342.

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