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Down by Four, Kings Get Point Across on Road

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A tornado swept through here early this week and an earthquake has been predicted for early next week.

For the visiting Kings, disaster seemed to beckon everywhere.

On land. In the air. Even on the ice.

While it certainly doesn’t rank with the tragedies of the real world, the Kings were looking at a little disaster of their own when they fell behind the St. Louis Blues, 4-0, after two periods Thursday night at St. Louis Arena.

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Instead, the Kings put together their biggest rally of the season to eke out a 4-4 tie before a sellout crowd of 17,982 and then hopped on their plane to return home atop the Smythe Division by four points over the Calgary Flames.

Eight days on the road produced only a 1-2-2 mark, but a gain of one point in the standings for the Kings, who come back with a season mark of 16-6-3.

“I didn’t feel we were down and pouting after the second period,” goalie Kelly Hrudey said. “We felt we would work hard and see what came of it.”

Hrudey was also the goalie Sunday when the Kings tied the Quebec Nordiques, 4-4.

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That night, the Kings twice blew two-goal leads and acted as if they had lost.

This night, it was St. Louis that had the blues after taking a seemingly secure lead on home ice, where the club had gone 7-0-2 in its first nine games as the Blues got off to the best start in their history.

But they are 0-1-2 at home in their last three as their overall record has dropped to 15-7-3.

It looked as if the Blues had snapped out of it when Gino Cavallini scored his sixth and seventh goals, Brett Hull his league-leading 25th and Dominic Lavoie his first, all in the second period.

Luc Robitaille, back from a four-game suspension, started the Kings’ comeback with his 10th goal 55 seconds into the final period.

Then came, perhaps, the crucial play.

With Robitaille in the penalty box on a double minor for high-sticking, Bob Kudelski controlled the puck near the boards on the left side and whipped it to John McIntyre.

McIntyre, 21, in only his sixth game as a King after joining the club in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Mike Krushelnyski, had yet to score.

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Receiving the puck, he found himself alone at the red line.

“I thought somebody would be there,” he said, “but nobody was. I started thinking about what I was going to do as I skated from the red line. I thought of something by the time I got there.”

It wasn’t too complicated. He just banged the puck through the pads of goalie Vince Riendeau.

That almost wasn’t enough as the puck hit the left post. But it ricocheted into the net, putting the Kings back by two goals with 2:08 gone in the third period.

It got tougher when Tomas Sandstrom had to leave 16 seconds later with a contusion of the back, the result of sliding into the net.

He never returned, but the Kings did after holding the Blues scoreless in the double minor.

When John Tonelli put in his own rebound for his fifth goal at the 6:39 mark, the margin was down to one. It was Tonelli’s 800th career point.

Wayne Gretzky tied the score at 16:33 on a power play, scoring his 16th goal from the middle of the right circle, the puck flying past Riendeau on his stick side.

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Both teams had their chances to break the deadlock. Gretzky had the puck on a two-on-one near the end of regulation play, but couldn’t get it past defender Jeff Brown.

And at the end of the overtime, Paul Cavallini fired from the left circle, but Hrudey deflected the puck with his left pad.

And that was that. Nobody won.

But try telling that to the Kings.

King Notes

Defenseman Marty McSorley suffered bruised ribs and left the game in the second period. . . . The Kings fired Marcel Comeau, the coach of their New Haven Nighthawk farm team. The American Hockey League club has struggled to an 8-13-4 start. Garry Unger, assistant coach of the Phoenix Roadrunners, the Kings’ other minor league affiliate, was named New Haven’s interim coach. “It was a real good team on paper,” King General Manager Rogie Vachon said, “but for some reason, they couldn’t win.” . . . Defenseman Bob Halkidis, sent to New Haven for conditioning as the final step in his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery, has been assigned to Phoenix after clearing waivers.


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