Kings Grounded by a Bird and Quebec

Times Staff Writer

The Kings didn't exactly get off to a great start on their four-game road trip to the East Coast.

When the team arrived at Los Angeles International Airport early Monday morning, they discovered that their flight had been canceled because of plane trouble. A bird had got caught in a jet engine.

The Kings used the five-hour delay to get in some practice time, going over to the Culver City ice rink.

They finally reached this snowy city at 1 on Tuesday morning, almost 12 hours after they left Los Angeles.

However, they played as if they were still suffering from jet lag Tuesday night, blowing a 5-3 first-period lead against the Quebec Nordiques and losing, 7-6, in front of 15,326 fans at the Quebec Coliseum.

King Coach Pat Quinn ripped his team with a string of cuss words that would have made Richard Pryor blush.

"That was a disgrace," Quinn said. "We ran out of (bleeping) brains. Aw (bleep), we didn't play worth a (bleep), We were like a bunch of individuals out there tonight. We won't win a bloody thing if we play that way. The travel shouldn't have had any effect on us. We're professionals.

"Maybe they were trying to get ammunition for next year's contract (by scoring goals). That's the attitude I've been trying to fight against all year.

"We played like a powder-puff team. It's the same (bleep) all the time that gets us into trouble. It wouldn't have been so bad if the other team had played a solid game, but that other club didn't want to play tonight."

Trailing, 6-5, after the second period, the Nordiques won by scoring two goals against King goalie Darren Eliot in a 45-second span of the third period.

Eliot had been shaken up just two minutes into the final period when he collided with Nordique left wing Brent Ashton after making a save. Eliot lay motionless on the ice for several minutes but was able to continue.

"I went to check the puck away from him, and my neck collided with his body," Eliot said. "I jammed my neck. If I thought I should have come out I would have come out."

Quebec center Alan Lemieux victimized Eliot with his second goal of the game, tying the score at 6-6 with 8:32 left.

"It was a backhander that went off his stick at the side of the net," Eliot said.

Ashton beat Eliot for the game-winning goal with 7:47 left.

"I thought that he (Eliot) had my number because I had a lot of chances earlier in the game and he stopped me," Ashton said. "But I guess I'd rather have scored the winning goal than had one of those go in earlier."

Eliot said he thought he had a good chance to make the save on Ashton's shot.

"He was all alone and I didn't think he had enough room to shoot," Eliot said. "Obviously, he did."

Quinn said that he may have made a mistake by leaving Eliot in the game.

"He said he wasn't hurt, but he didn't look very strong on the last two goals," Quinn said. "Maybe the coach (Quinn) was just as lousy as his players. Maybe I should have taken him out after the first goal."

The Kings had a good chance to tie the game with 6:47 left, but Quebec goalie Mario Gosselin blocked a shot by King captain Terry Ruskowski.

Gosselin was inserted into the game by Quebec Coach Michel Bergeron at the start of the second period after the starting goalie, Richard Sevigny, gave up five goals on 14 shots in the first period.

"Michel made the right decision," Sevigny said. "When you give up five goals, it's best to change the goalie."

Gosselin fared much better than Sevigny, allowing just one goal on 13 shots.

"I didn't have to do much out there," Gosselin said. "I only faced two tough shots and I gave up a goal on one and stopped the other one."

The Nordiques started fast, scoring on the first shot of the game when Alain Cote deflected a shot off Eliot's mask and into the net.

But the Kings tied it at 1-1 at 4:14 of the first period when a shot by defenseman Garry Galley hit the skate of teammate Dave Taylor and went in.

After the Nordiques went ahead, 2-1, on a goal by Wilf Paiement at 5:58, the Kings scored three straight goals.

Phil Sykes tied the game at 2-2 when he scored a short-handed goal off a pass from Bob Miller at 8:59. Rookie defenseman Craig Redmond scored an unassisted power-play goal on a slapshot from the blueline to give the Kings a 3-2 lead at 11:32. And center Doug Smith, who led the Kings with two goals, got his first one at 13:12 of the opening period off a pass from Redmond.

Lemieux closed the score to 4-3 when he scored his first goal of the game on a slap shot from the top of the circle at 16:16.

But at 17:17, Smith gave the Kings a 5-3 lead with his second goal on a rebound shot. Sevigny blocked Smith's first shot, but Anders Hakansson got the rebound and passed to Smith, who scored his 16th goal of the season.

Quebec scored the first two goals of the second period to tie it at 5-5. With 12:22 left in the second period, center Peter Stastny scored his 27th goal of the season to help the Nordiques close to within one. Dale Hunter put in a rebound with 10:06 left to tie the score.

However, King center Marcel Dionne broke the tie with his 35th goal of the season with 2:14 left in the second period.

And then the Kings collapsed again in the third period.

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