On the day that the Kings made a trade to get the goaltending they'll need come playoff time, the goalie who has brought them this far, who has helped put them in good standing for the playoffs, Glenn Healy, had a nightmare of a game.
Healy gave up a quick goal at the start of the first period, then another at the start of the second period. And just when it looked as if he might be able to hold off the Washington Capitals long enough for his team to bail him out--bang, bang, bang--he gave up three more.
So, the Capitals had a 7-2 victory over the Kings before a crowd of 15,003 Wednesday night at the Forum.
It couldn't have helped Healy to know that Kelly Hrudey, acquired earlier in the day from the New York Islanders, had arrived at the Forum in time to see that embarrassing third period.
When Hrudey arrived, after the second period, the Kings were trailing, 4-1, and he told reporters: "I'm excited about watching one of those King comebacks I hear so much about."
Not this time. As Coach Robbie Ftorek put it: "We played a touch not as well as we've been playing."
The situation was looking hopeful for the Kings when Dean Kennedy took a pass from Steve Kasper and slid the puck past Washington goalie Don Beaupre, as Beaupre also slid past the net. But that went for nought when Bengt Gustafsson, Mike Ridley and Kelly Miller scored in a span of less than four minutes.
It was the Kings' last home game for quite awhile. They will take their 32-24-5 record on the road for the next five games.
The Capitals, wrapping up a six-game trip, looked anything but tired as they improved their record to 30-24-10.
Wayne Gretzky gave them credit and added, "Once we got behind, we played not very intelligently."
There was also the theory that perhaps Healy was unnerved by the trade. But when asked if it was on his mind, he said: "No."
While Healy wasn't exactly in the mood to chat, Gretzky tried to ease his pain by saying: "Glenn has played well all year. It wouldn't have mattered if we put a board in front of the net, if we play like we played the last six minutes tonight."
But Healy was having his troubles from the start. Just 3 minutes 54 seconds into the game, he gave up his first goal when Dave Christian redirected a centering pass from Scott Stevens. And just 54 seconds into the second period, the Capitals' lead went to 2-0 when Gartner shot a floating, bouncing shot past Healy's outstretched right leg.
The Kings managed to get a goal from Steve Duchesne at 5:39 of the second period, off a pass from Gretzky, before the Capitals struck again.
At 7:12 of the second period, Gustafsson held the puck behind the Kings' net long enough for Healy to brace himself for the wraparound shot. But Gustafsson circled around to put the puck right past Healy, who was waiting for the shot at the right post.
As if that weren't bad enough, there was a delayed penalty awaiting Tim Watters, a 5-minute high-sticking call. The penalty brought the automatic game misconduct, so Watters was gone.
Christian went right at Healy at 13:28 of the second period on a breakaway, faked a move to the right but went to the backhand to extend the Capitals' lead to 4-1 with his second goal of the night.
Ftorek called that breakaway "a bad goal on our part," saying it was the result of "a bad change, a misjudgment."
Gretzky said it wouldn't have mattered who was in goal for the Kings at that point.
While the trade focused attention on the Kings' goaltending, the Capitals' goalie faced 25 shots and made 23 saves in his first start for Washington after being brought up Sunday from Baltimore of the American Hockey League.
In the first period, Beaupre was called upon to stop the Kings as they attacked for 1 minute 29 seconds with a two-player advantage. Gretzky, Bernie Nicholls, John Tonelli, Dave Taylor and Luc Robitaille were unable to score.
Capital Coach Bryan Murray said: "Don Beaupre made some sensational stops when they had the two-man advantage and the power plays, and he held us in."
With the return of Marty McSorley, who had not played in nine games because of a knee injury, the Kings are back to full strength. . . . Because the high-sticking call on Tim Watters Wednesday night was his second of the season, he will have to sit out the next game. . . . Wayne Gretzky's point put him within 46 points of Gordie Howe's all-time NHL record and three points away from Marcel Dionne's single-season club record of 137 set during 1978-79. . . . As happy as goaltender Kelly Hrudey is to join the Kings, the timing isn't perfect. His wife is expecting their second child in about a month.