Capitals Set the Kings Back at Least One Month : L.A.'s 8-3 Loss Looks Like a Replay of Murphy's Last Day With the Team

Times Staff Writer

Mike Murphy, fired as coach of the Kings only a few hours before the game, didn't stick around on Dec. 6 to watch the Kings' 10-3 loss to the Washington Capitals at Landover, Md.

Wednesday night, though, the Kings provided a replay.

Murphy, attending a game for the first time since his dismissal, looked on from the press box as the Capitals punished the Kings again, 8-3, before a crowd of 11,576 at the Forum.

"Not much has changed," he quipped after one of the Capitals' goals.

Actually, things did seem to have changed for the Kings, who had allowed an average of 5.1 goals a game in their first 28 games, ending with the lambasting at Landover, but had given up only 3.8 a game in 17 games before Wednesday night.

They hadn't given up more than five goals in any one game.

The Capitals, though, swarmed the net, scoring six goals in the first 27 minutes 31 seconds.

They led, 6-1, and the Kings were well on the way to a loss--their third in four games--that dropped them deeper into the Smythe Division cellar.

And the Capitals, usually a low-scoring, defense-oriented team, were less than two periods away from moving into first place in the Patrick Division.

It was all so frustrating for Coach Robbie Ftorek, who replaced Murphy Dec. 9, that after giving an earful to referee Mike Noeth late in the game, he slammed the door to the Kings' bench.

Between the second and third periods, Ftorek requested time on the Kings' radio broadcast of the game, which could be heard at the concession stands, whereupon he asked the fans not to verbally abuse goaltender Glenn Healy, who was having enough problems with the Capitals.

"If we don't do the job in front of him, then you can't be booing him," Ftorek told reporters after the game. "I just asked (the fans) to direct their criticism in the right direction, and that is (toward) me."

Ftorek said he didn't think it odd to make such a request. He said he had made a similar plea to fans while he was playing for the Phoenix Roadrunners of the World Hockey Assn.

"If you believe in something strongly, then you should speak your mind," Ftorek said. "I think the fans have a right to know where I'm coming from. At least, they know how I feel."

Said Healy, who faced 35 shots: "That was nice of him. . . . He believes we all play together, we win together and we lose together."

The Capitals, ending a two-game losing streak, opened a 3-0 lead in the first 11:39, getting their second and third goals from Yvon Corriveau in a span of only 13 seconds.

"We took some penalties, they came out and scored some goals on the power play, and it was an uphill battle from there," Ftorek said. "But you've got to be able to come from behind. It's a matter of confidence."

The Capitals scored four goals in their first five power-play opportunities, the first only 1:21 into the game.

With King defenseman Dean Kennedy in the penalty box for high-sticking Lou Franceschetti, Greg Adams re-directed a shot by Larry Murphy.

Corriveau made it 2-0 at 11:26, scoring from the left circle after taking a pass from Scott Stevens.

Thirteen seconds later, Kennedy attempted to clear a pass behind the Kings' net but misfired it, sending it directly at Healy, who wasn't expecting it.

The puck caromed off Healy's stick to Corriveau, who scored from in front.

After Luc Robitaille scored his 26th goal for the Kings with 6:15 left in the period, making it 3-1, Ken Hammond was called for a major high-sticking penalty, giving the Capitals a five-minute power play.

Kevin Hatcher took a pass in the slot from Mike Ridley, spun and fired a shot off the right post and into the net, giving the Capitals a 4-1 lead with 29 seconds still left in the period.

It only got worse for the Kings in the second period.

Dave Christian scored a power-play goal from the left circle after the Kings' Mike Allison had deflected a shot directly at him, and Peter Sundstrom and Stevens both scored from the slot.

The Capitals led, 7-1, with 3:44 still left in the period.

All Ftorek could do at that point was make his plea to the fans for mercy.

"Tonight, we were flat," Healy said. "We didn't have the intensity, we didn't have the effort."

King Notes

Former coach Mike Murphy provided color commentary for Washington radio station WMAL during the second and third periods. . . . Luc Robitaille was voted by fans to start for the Campbell Conference team in the National Hockey League All-Star Game Feb. 9 at St. Louis. Robitaille, last season's rookie of the year, leads the Kings with 56 points, including a first-period goal Wednesday night. The last time a King player was selected to start in an all-star game was 1981, when the Kings' Triple Crown Line of Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer was voted into the starting lineup by hockey writers. . . . Asked about Robbie Ftorek, vice president Brian Burke of the Vancouver Canucks told the Hockey News: "Ever since he started coaching, Robbie has developed such a special loyalty among his players that they'll go through the wall for him. That scares me, and the other thing that scares me is that when he starts coaching, his club's goals-against numbers go down." . . . Mike Allison has points in 10 straight games. . . . Taylor, who missed 10 games with a groin injury, returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 22. . . . Vancouver's 8-2 victory over Winnipeg moved the fourth-place Canucks three points ahead of the Kings in the Smythe Division standings.

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