Robitaille Pulls One Out of Hat : His Three Goals Power Kings Past Nordiques, 5-3
The popularity of Luc Robitaille continued to grow Thursday night.
Following up his two-goal performance in Tuesday night’s All-Star game with another crowd-pleasing effort, Robitaille scored three goals to help the Kings to a 5-3 victory over the Quebec Nordiques before an announced crowd of 9,325 at the Forum.
Several caps littered the ice after his third goal, indicating a hat trick, Robitaille’s second of the season and third of his career.
Jimmy Carson added two goals for the Kings, his 38th and 39th, keeping the 19-year-old center on pace to become only the second United States-born player to score 50 goals in a season.
He has 11 goals in 6 games.
But, as has usually been the case since the Kings made him the No. 2 pick in the 1986 draft, Carson was upstaged by Robitaille, who assisted on Carson’s second goal and equaled a career high with his four points.
“I came in tonight and I had a lot of confidence,” Robitaille said. “Everybody gave me the puck. It was great. It was a fun game to play.”
Also, apparently, fun to watch for Coach Robbie Ftorek, who was more interested in discussing defense and the Kings’ penalty-killing unit.
“Jimmy’s been going crazy, Luc’s been scoring goals,” Ftorek said. “You always want to have that production, but you have to be sound defensively. I thought the defense played well. I was happy with that part of the game.”
The Nordiques, who have won only once in seven games, swarmed goaltender Glenn Healy in the opening minutes, but didn’t score until Jeff Brown lifted a shot into the net with 9:47 left in the first period.
Before that, Healy made two goal-saving plays, stopping Mike Eagles on a breakaway and Alan Haworth from deep in the slot.
From that point, the Kings’ defense tightened considerably.
“We’re forcing people where we want them to go,” Ftorek said.
Quebec, which ranks fifth in the National Hockey League in power-play efficiency, failed to score in five manpower advantages.
The Kings have killed 34 of 35 penalties, giving up only one power-play goal in their last seven games.
“We talk about penalty killing quite a bit,” Ftorek said. “You have to talk about what other teams are doing on the power play.”
Obviously, the Kings are doing more than talking.
They’re shutting down opponents.
Carson pulled the Kings even with 5:31 left in the period, making a pretty move just inside the Quebec blue line to get past defenseman Normand Rochefort, skating to the top of the slot and beating goaltender Mario Gosselin with a 20-foot shot into the upper left corner of the net.
The goal was Carson’s 38th in 59 games, one more than he scored in 80 games last season, when he was named to the NHL all-rookie team.
Robitaille scored twice in the second period after Quebec’s Jeff Jackson, alone at the top of the slot, gave the Nordiques a 2-1 lead.
A nice play by Carson set up Robitaille’s second goal, which was scored from about the same distance during a King power play.
With Haworth in pursuit, Carson had his right arm hooked as he skated past the goal line on the left side, but still managed to make a left-armed pass into the slot, where Robitaille beat Gosselin.
Robitaille scored again from the slot at 2:05 of the third period, getting to the puck first after a shot by Paul Fenton kicked off Gosselin’s left leg.
The goal was Robitaille’s 35th, and the Kings led, 4-2.
It stayed that way until Quebec’s Tommy Albelin scored on a 35-foot shot from the left point with 1:50 left.
Carson provided the final margin, taking a pass from Robitaille, skating around Albelin and Lane Lambert and scoring into an empty net with 41 seconds left.
Craig Laughlin, acquired by the Kings Tuesday in the trade that sent Grant Ledyard to the Washington Capitals, arrived in Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and did not play. . . . Dan Gratton was assigned to the Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate at New Haven, Conn. . . . Steve Duchesne, who sprained his left knee Jan. 26 at Quebec, practiced Wednesday and said he might be able to play Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Duchesne said his knee was sore Thursday, but that he will practice again today. . . . Tom Laidlaw returned to the lineup after missing nine games with a charley horse in his right leg. Mike Allison returned after missing eight of the last nine games with a groin injury. Jay Wells was scratched because of a groin injury.
The starting time for Saturday’s game was moved to 8:05 p.m. to accommodate ESPN. It will be the only Forum appearance this season for the Penguins and center Mario Lemieux, the National Hockey League’s leading scorer and most valuable player in Tuesday night’s All-Star game. . . . The victory moved the Kings four points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks in the race for fourth place in the Smythe Division. The Canucks lost Thursday night to the Edmonton Oilers, 7-2. . . . Luc Robitaille’s only other four-point game was Nov. 25, 1986, when he had 2 goals and 2 assists against the Canucks.