It it often seems as though there is a dark cloud dogging the Kings, consider that even in victory the despair does not abate.
Such was the nature of Saturday night's 8-7 win over the Quebec Nordiques. The Kings once again proved that they are able, even eager, to score goals. The down side is that the Kings allow more than they get. They have scored a respectable 56 goals but have given up an atrocious 81--worst in the league.
A crowd of 12,105 at the Forum was treated to a season-high goal total by the Kings (5-10-2), who came into the game with the worst record in the NHL. The Nordiques are 9-7-1.
The goal imbalance is something that Coach Mike Murphy would like to see changed. He's particularly angered with the King forwards, who have shown little interest in playing defense.
"What can I tell you, I'm embarrassed with the number of goals-against," he said. "I've preached that from the start of the season. We've handed out motivational material, we've preached it. The last two games, it was nonexistent.
"There's no concern by many of our forwards to play defensively. I fault my forwards. "
The Kings were led by second-year players Luc Robitaille and Steve Duchesne, who had two goals each. Bernie Nicholls had three assists.
Four goals were scored in the third period, but despite a Quebec goal with three seconds left in the game, the King lead was not in danger.
Most of the scoring took place in a frenzied second period after the Kings got out of the first period with a 2-1 lead.
Quebec scored first, on a goal by Lane Lambert. Duchesne, a defenseman, failed to clear the puck in the King zone, and it was picked up by the Nordiques' Michel Goulet. He fed the puck to Lamert, who scored at 3:06.
The Kings tied it on a rebound goal by Jim Fox after Duchesne gained a measure of redemption by setting it up with a hard shot.
King captain Dave Taylor set up the next score, muscling his way past the Quebec defense to get off a shot. It missed, but Robitaille was in position to put in the rebound.
The second period was a radical departure from the first. Both teams were rushing and pressuring the goaltenders.
The Kings scored 43 seconds into the period with Nicholls setting up Duchesne on the power play to make it 3-1.
Then came three goals in 37 seconds.
Quebec scored when goaltender Glenn Healy was caught out of the goal at 4:08. On the next face-off, Paul Fenton scored to give the Kings a 4-2 lead.
The fans had barely settled back into their seats when the Nordiques scored again. They clogged the King slot, and Healy, probably screened, allowed a goal by Goulet, and it was a 4-3 game at 4:45.
"I'm not happy with what was going on in front of our goalie," Murphy said in reference to the heavy traffic in the King slot. "Our forwards weren't protecting our goalie."
But the forwards were protecting the lead. Robitaille scored his seventh goal of the season less than two minutes later.
When Jason Lafreniere scored for Quebec about three minutes later, Murphy pulled the rookie Healy and put Rollie Melanson in goal.
Lafreniere then beat Melanson on the fifth shot he faced to tie it at 5-5.
Fox set up the last goal of the period as he took the puck in, faked a shot and gave it to Brian Erickson, who scored to give the Kings a 6-5 lead after two periods.
That goal convinced Quebec Coach Andre Savard to pull starting goaltender Mario Brunetta and put Mario Gosselin in to start the third period. Gosselin gave up the Kings' final two goals, to Bob Carpenter and Duchesne.
It was a rough night for all four goalies. As players from both teams jammed the slot, few of the 79 shots on goal, 45 by the Kings, were easy to see.
The Kings, last in the NHL in power-play goals, were only 2 for 7 Saturday night. Quebec was 2 for 4. . . . Jim Christison, the linesman who was accidentally knocked down in Friday night's game at Calgary, broke his wrist in three places. Christison, who became the NHL's fourth linesman injured at work, was himself replacing an injured linesman in the Calgary game. . . . Tom Laidlaw's goal Friday night was his first as a King. . . . The injured Peter Stastny had scored a point in every game for the Nordiques. . . . NHL President John Ziegler attended Saturday night's game. . . . The Kings go on the road again Tuesday for four games, starting in New York against the Islanders.