Coach Robbie Ftorek celebrated his 36th birthday Saturday, so consider what happened Dec. 14 an early present from his employers, the Kings. That was the day center Mike Allison came to Los Angeles from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade for Sean McKenna.
In his first eight games with the Kings, Allison had three goals and three assists while also performing well in other areas, such as face-offs, defense and penalty-killing.
But Saturday night, he went one better--three better, actually--by scoring a pair of third-period goals and adding an assist to lift the Kings to a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, the team with the best record in the National Hockey League, before a crowd of 15,482 at the Forum.
Allison gave the Kings (12-24-4) a lead they would never relinquish 3:08 into the third period. Forty-six seconds later, he scored again after wrestling the puck away from Montreal's Rick Green behind the net, skating behind Montreal goalie Patrick Roy and jamming it into the net.
Bob Carpenter capped the win with a goal with 13 seconds to play. That gave the Kings three goals on five shots in the third period. The Kings took a season-low 18 shots in all.
"I couldn't ask for more," said Allison, who has nine points in as many games with the Kings and 200 in his career. "I'm getting the opportunity to get some confidence and points. I never thought the points would come like they have.
"Nine games. If you would have told me I'd have as many points as I do have, I wouldn't have believed you."
If the rapid-fire scoring in the third period looked familiar to the Canadiens (22-10-9), it should have. That's just how the game started for the Kings, who snapped a four-game losing streak against Montreal.
The Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two goals against Roy in a 40-second span of the first period. However, that stood for all of 5:52 before the Canadiens tied the score.
Jim Fox started things by putting a backhander past Roy with 12:53 left in the period. Then, with 12:13 remaining, Luc Robitaille, coming off a hat trick Wednesday night against Winnipeg, scored despite tight defense by Chris Chelios.
Claude Lemieux cut the Kings' lead to 2-1 when he got behind defenseman Mark Hardy and skated up the middle to beat goalie Glenn Healy with 10:25 left in the first period. It was the fifth goal in 10 games for Lemieux.
The goal that tied it for Montreal, by Chelios with 6:05 left in the first period, wasn't the fault of Healy, who was making his first start in 10 days and his first ever against the Canadiens. The puck deflected off King defenseman Steve Duchesne, who was guarding Chelios just outside the crease.
Neither team scored in the second period, though the Kings came close twice. With 8:47 left, Bernie Nicholls' shot hit the crossbar and ricocheted in front of the goal, saving Roy. But that was nothing compared to the good fortune the Montreal goalie had later.
Behind his own net and looking to pass, Roy, who began the night 3-1 in his career against the Kings and 12-4 with a 2.75 goals-against average overall this season, instead centered the puck to the Kings' Allison, who was all alone and had a clear shot a few feet in front of the Canadien goal. But the puck bounced past him. There would, of course, be more opportunities later.
"The Kings played a good game," Montreal Coach Jean Perron said. "You have to give them credit, but we're not as sharp as we normally are. We shot the puck, but it always went wide. . . . I feel our players had a few mental lapses. They (the Kings) scored two goals quick in the first and third, so you can't allow those kinds of goals. We don't allow those kinds of goals normally."
Ftorek is 5-7 since taking over for Mike Murphy.
"Is this the best game they've played since I've been here?" he asked rhetorically. "Yes.
"It was a real nice game. We asked them to do a few things different and change up, and they made some nice adjustments. I thought they carried it out real well."
And just what were the changes?
"We have to play those guys (Montreal) again," Ftorek said, wary of the March 5 meeting at the Forum. "So they were just changes."
Ten of the Kings' next 13 games are on the road, starting Monday night at New Jersey. . . . Bobby Carpenter played in his 500th career game. The assist on the Jim Fox goal in the first period was Carpenter's first point in eight games. . . . After missing 14 games with a broken finger, Dean Kennedy returned to action.