Goalie Mike Liut wasn’t happy when he was sent from the St. Louis Blues to the Hartford Whalers in a National Hockey League trade Friday. In fact, he felt sick. “I spent a lot of time in St. Louis, and then it was all gone,” he said.
Liut, who hadn’t skated since Wednesday, made his first start for the Whalers Saturday night and played an impressive game, only to lose, 2-1, to the Kings on a disputed goal in overtime. Marcel Dionne got the game-winner, scoring his 36th goal of the season in a scramble in front of the net with 2:14 left in the five-minute extra period.
On the winning goal, Liut made a good stop of a 30-foot slapshot by King right wing Dave Taylor but got tangled with several players and was knocked down. The loose puck bounced in front of the net and to the free Dionne, who took two shots and scored on the second one.
The Whalers argued that the goal should have been disallowed because the puck actually had been kicked in intentionally by the Kings’ Brian MacLellan.
Dionne’s teammates also said that MacLellan was responsible for the goal but that the puck deflected in off his skate rather than being kicked intentionally. The officials apparently did not see MacLellan touch the puck at all, however, and referee Denis Morel allowed it to stand as Dionne’s goal.
“It definitely went off Mac’s skate,” Taylor said. “I had the original shot, and the puck was lying in he crease. Marcel shot it, and it went in off Mac.”
Said MacLellan: “The puck went off Liut and tricked into the net off my skate. Luit came out of the net after Dionne’s shot, and I was right there.”
The ice was littered with debris after the game as 11,662 fans at the Hartford Civic Center showed their displeasure with the goal.
“I felt it was kicked into the net,” Liut said. “But once the ref rules that it’s a goal, he’s not going to change his mind and rule that it’s not a goal.”
King Coach Pat Quinn said the goal was legitimate, and then smiled.
“I’m sure they (Hartford) thought that the puck didn’t go across the line,” Quinn said.
It was the second consecutive game in which the winning goal might have been kicked in by a member of the Kings. Thursday night, New Jersey Devil goalie Glenn (Chico) Resch contended that right wing Jim Fox kicked in the winning goal in the Kings’ 5-3 win at East Rutherford, N.J.
Through most of Saturday night’s game, Liut and the Kings’ Bob Janecyk waged a goaltending duel. Liut made 30 saves, and Janecyk, in winning his second consecutive game, made 19.
Janecyk shut out the Whalers in the first two periods as the Kings took a 1-0 lead.
Liut frustrated the Kings in the first period, making good saves on shots by Dionne and Steve Shutt.
But left wing John Paul Kelly scored the Kings’ first goal off a pass from Fox at 9:58 of the second period.
However, Whaler rookie left wing Paul Fenton, who had an apparent goal disallowed in the first period because he knocked the puck into the net with his hand, tied the score at 1-1 with 6:59 left in the third period. It was Fenton’s second goal since being called up from the minors on Feb. 9.
“He (Fenton) made a good move on me and I was partially screened out of the play,” Janecyk said.
Fenton had an apparent goal disallowed just 3:04 into the first period because he knocked the puck into the net with his hand.
The victory moved the Kings (27-23-11) to within two points of the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets, who are tied for second in the Smythe Division with 67 points. The Kings play the Buffalo Sabres tonight (Channel 9, 4 p.m.).
The Whalers gave up goalie Greg Millen and center Mark Johnson to acquire Liut. They Blues also received future considerations, which could be a 1985 draft pick or a player. The Blues play the Whalers here today, but Liut is expected to sit out the game. . . . King captain Terry Ruskowski suffered a bruised right knee when he got tangled up with Kevin Dineen late in the second period. But Ruskowski said he expects to be able to play tonight. . . . The Kings outshot the Whalers, 33-20, including a 5-0 margin in overtime. . . . The Whalers (20-32-7) are 0-8-1 in their last nine home games.