It figures that a game in which Dave (Tiger) Williams is the star would be a wild one. And a loss for the Kings.
Both were true in the Winnipeg Jets' 3-1 win over the Kings Sunday afternoon. The game was all out--the Jets scored two goals in the first five minutes on three shots on goal--and Williams' aggressive play provided the spark the Kings needed after sleepwalking through the first period.
The Jets (31-20-5) scored 33 seconds into the game and made it 2-0 four minutes later. The crowd of 14,574 in the Winnipeg Arena went wild as Thomas Steen scored a short-handed goal on a breakaway.
Then Williams decided to personally take charge of the Kings' comeback. It began 47 seconds into the second period. Jet goalie Eldon Reddick came out of the crease to stop a shot, and Williams barrelled into him, driving Reddick headfirst into the boards.
Meanwhile, Bernie Nicholls took the puck that Reddick had thrown out and put it into the net.
The ensuing fight yielded four penalties, but the Kings had grabbed the upper hand.
"I think it was an important moment for us," Jimmy Carson said. "It really got us going."
During the post-goal fight, Williams was the only player without a partner, so he skated over to Reddick, leaned down and said something. Reddick was knocked out by the impact and said he didn't hear what Williams said.
Williams was his usual coy self when asked about the play. "Who did I run into?" he said.
The goaltender, Tiger.
"Really, I thought he ran into me."
What did you say to Reddick, Tiger?
"I just asked him where he got his hair cut," he said.
What did Reddick say to you, Tiger?
"He told me he gets his hair cut at the same place as Michael Jackson," he said.
Reddick is black.
No matter who ran into whom, Williams' hard check sounded the charge for the Kings, who--with a 22-27-6 record and five losses on this five-game trip--have lately mounted few comebacks and all too late.
After the hit, Williams was the object of much attention from the big Jet defensemen. Kings Coach Mike Murphy was pleased with Williams' agitating style
"David's very effective with that, the best in the NHL," Murphy said. "He's a terrific competitor. He's never backed down. He's very smart and knows who he can do it to."
Williams' role of agitator is longstanding, but his role as dangerous shooter is new. Sunday afternoon, Wiliams had as many good scoring chances as he's ever had this season and he was stopped on two and fanned on another in the slot.
The Kings power play was equally ineffective. The Kings are still first in the league on the power play--leading in both goals and attempts--but have converted only 1 of 12 chances in the two games here with the Jets.
The Kings squandered two chances in the second period and entered the third trailing, 2-1.
The Kings thought briefly that they had tied it at 6:48 in the third. Sean McKenna took a backhand shot, and Bob Bourne kicked the rebound in the goal.
To be counted, though, the puck has to come off a player's stick.
Bourne's stick was being held fast by Winnipeg center Laurie Boschman, and the Kings could not convert the power play on the holding call.
The next best chance the Kings had was on a shot by Luc Robitaille that Reddick stopped at the goal line.
The Kings were pressing until Bryan Erickson was called for hooking at 17:36. The Kings were incensed.
Murphy, who has been bland and decidedly noncontroversial since taking over as head coach, was furious.
"I think there was a lot of frustration with the call," Murphy said. "Jimmy Carson was walking down the slot and was hooked right before the call.
"The referee decided that the people couldn't get their money's worth by making a very cheap call in the last 2 1/2 minutes of the game."
As a result, the Jets scored on the power play with 58 seconds left. Again, the Kings protested and three players--Jay Wells, Jim Fox and Phil Sykes--were given 10-minute misconduct penalties.
Kings goaltender Rollie Melanson threw the puck angrily in the direction of Ray Neufeld, who had scored for Winnipeg.
On the next Jet rush, Melanson came out of goal and planted his stick in the chest of Boschman. Melanson was called for cross checking at 19:17 and that power play ended the game.
Afterward, Melanson skated at referee Kenny Fraser and had to be restrained by teammates.
"What I said to him was between him and me," Melanson said. "I'm not going to chew him to the rafters. I made my point with him. If you want to know what I said to him, go ask him."
Jimmy Carson was sporting a haircut that would be considered unusual, even in Los Angeles. Carson was given his rookie shave here by his teammates, and as a result the back of his head resembles a poorly mowed lawn. Carson said he didn't know who the barber was, "I was blindfolded." . . . Defenseman Jay Wells returned to the lineup after missing two games after being struck in the left eye with a puck last week. His left cheekbone and the area around his eye are still bruised and the white of his eye is now red with blood. Wells said it doesn't hurt, but his vision is slightly restricted.