As if the Kings hadn't seen enough of the Vancouver Canucks in back-to-back games Saturday night and Sunday night, they took the Sunday night game into overtime before a sellout crowd of 16,123 at the Pacific Coliseum.
Just a few more minutes of bump and grind with their familiar Smythe Division opponent, a few more exchanges of elbows and grimaces, as they skated to a 3-3 tie and picked up a little ground on the division-leading Calgary Flames.
The Kings stretched their unbeaten streak to seven games (5-0-2) as their overall record went to 12-10-2. The one point for the tie put the Kings ahead of Edmonton and in sole possession of second place in the division, now two points behind Calgary.
King goalie Kelly Hrudey, who faced 39 shots for the second straight night, has never lost to the Canucks. His career record in goal against Vancouver is 11-0-2.
He can't explain it. "I was really surprised when I heard about it the other day," Hrudey said. "I have no idea how I've managed to do that. Twelve games? Thirteen games? That's a lot with parity the way it is in the league these days. I wouldn't expect that, because they're a tough team to play. Luck must have a lot to do with it."
Luck and the fact that, in these last two meetings at least, the goalie and his team are on a roll.
"After we sort of hit bottom and Tommy (Coach Tom Webster) really got mad at us, we looked at each other and reacted to that," Hrudey said. "With players like we have on this team, we all feel like we have something to prove. There are a lot of good players here, and you want to prove to the next guy what you can do."
Hrudey again made some stellar saves to keep the Kings in a very close game.
The Canucks seemed to be keeping the upper hand in this game of intimidation until Steve Duchesne scored the power play goal that tied the game, 3-3, at 13:52 of the third period.
Wayne Gretzky, who had assists on all three of the Kings' goals, had passed the puck to Bernie Nicholls as the Kings were moving back into the Canucks' end. Nicholls dropped the puck back to Duchesne, who lifted a shot through the slot and through traffic to beat Canuck goalie Kirk McLean.
But that was after playing catch-up the whole game.
Asked about the bruising style of the game--the list of 33 penalties for a total of 110 penalty minutes spills over onto the back of the score sheet--Gretzky said: "There were a few more fights tonight, but, all in all, I thought last night's game was more physical. I thought there was more bumping and grinding last night."
Saturday night's game was close until the final minutes, when the Kings finally broke out for a 7-4 victory. Sunday night's game was close all the way.
The Canucks led 2-0 after the first period. Jim Benning was out front to pounce on the pass from Igor Larionov. Benning had only to shoot the puck into the net left open as Hrudey tried to react to the Canucks as they circled around behind his net twice.
Greg Adams scored Vancouver's second goal on a power play while Tim Watters sat in the penalty box for tripping. Hrudey had come out of the crease to stop a shot by Brian Bradley, and the rebound went to Adams, who had an open target.
The Kings had a perfect opportunity to score a couple of minutes later when a holding penalty against defenseman Rod Buskas followed, a minute later, by a roughing penalty on Harold Snepsts gave the Kings a five-on-three advantage. But the Canucks killed both penalties.
The Kings didn't get their first goal until 1:55 of the second period, when Mike Krushelnyski skated across in front of the Canuck goal to follow up a shot Gretzky took from the right circle. When McLean made the stop on Gretzky, Krushelnyski was there to slide the rebound past him.
By that time the game was rough and getting rougher.
Steve Kasper's helmet had to go flying across the ice before there was a roughing call against Buskas to give the Kings a power play.
Not that it did the Kings much good. The Canucks' Trevor Linden scored shorthanded, following a shot by left winger Petri Skriko that Skriko got away only after pulling down Duchesne to clear a path into the Kings' zone.
Hrudey went to the ice to make the stop on Skriko, and when he clamored to his skates after the goal, he charged toward the officials to complain that there was no call against Skriko.
Not that that did much good, either.
There followed a series of scuffles culminating in a bout between the Kings' Jay Miller and Vancouver's Daryl Stanley that started in the right corner in the Canucks' end and ended in the left circle.
A later roughing penalty on Buskas for cross checking Mike Allison about the neck and shoulders led to a power-play goal by Nicholls at 18:04 of the second period. A series of quick passes initiated by Gretzky put the puck back on Gretzky's stick to the right of the net for his pass across to Nicholls as the Kings closed to within 3-2.
The trip to Vancouver was a one-game trip for the Kings, who will return to L.A. today to prepare for a Thursday night game at the Forum against Edmonton. . . . The Kings haven't lost a game since losing to Calgary on Nov. 8. . . . The Canucks' Jim Benning is the older brother of the Kings' Brian Benning. . . . King goalie Kelly Hrudey is 2-0-1 against the Canucks since being traded to L.A. . . . King left winger Luc Robitaille iced his right arm after the game, trying to reduce the damage done by a slash.