The Kings are fit to be tied.
And tied and tied.
They wound up a frustrating Saturday night deadlocked with the Winnipeg Jets, 4-4, before a sellout Forum crowd of 16,005, the Kings’ second consecutive tie and fourth in six games.
Getting a point in the standings enabled them to break a tie with the Calgary Flames and gain sole possession of first place in the Smythe Division at 16-7-5.
But this was hardly a Kings team in the mood to celebrate because:
--They have now gone two weeks without a victory.
--Their winless streak has stretched to six games with two losses along with the four ties over that span.
--They blew a 3-0 lead Saturday.
--They outshot the Jets, 40-19, in regulation play.
--The Kings failed to get a shot on goal in overtime.
This was the finale of a two-game series against Winnipeg (9-17-6), the opener on Wednesday night ending 3-3.
“We’re not realy happy,” King wing Luc Robitaille said. “We wanted to win this game. We want to get out of this slump more than anyone. I don’t think anyone is happy. I’m not.”
Goalie Kelly Hrudey, however, struck a more positive note.
“I don’t think we should lose sight of the fact we played well,” he said. "(Winnipeg goalie Bob) Essensa played extremely well. I didn’t have a big save in me. But there’s no reason to hang our heads down. We played a strong game.”
That Hrudey played at all was a mild surprise. It is only the third time all season he has played back-to-back games, alternating the rest of the season with Daniel Berthiaume.
“I thought he (Hrudey) played very good against Winnipeg (Wednesday night),” Coach Tom Webster said. “This was an opportunity to come back with enough rest.”
Webster said he also made the switch because he likes the matchups on the schedule ahead with Berthiaume facing the New York Rangers and then Edmonton, and Hrudey opposing Calgary.
Wayne Gretzky figured in the game’s first two goals, but hardly in the way one might expect.
He wasn’t in his familiar spot behind the net, but rather in a most unfamiliar spot--the penalty box.
The Kings were poised for a quick start after Winnipeg defenseman Gord Donnelly was assessed a double minor early in the first period for elbowing and roughing Frank Breault.
But only 24 seconds into the one-man advantage, Gretzky was penalized for slashing Paul MacDermid.
It was Gretzky’s first minutes in the box all season , the only King other than Berthiaume who can make that boast.
Undaunted, the Kings scored twice in the four-on-four situation.
Robitaille scored first, 4:55 into the game. The Kings scored again 22 seconds later, Brad Jones getting his fourth.
“I was a little disappointed in myself,” Gretzky said of his penalty, “but I got our guys two goals.”
The Kings closed out the first period with a 3-0 lead when they scored again at 9:30 on a power play, Granato getting his 13th goal.
But the Jets tied the score with three second-period goals on eight shots. MacDermid scored his sixth goal at 1:18, Teppo Numminen his fourth at 11:15 and Pat Elynuik his 12th at 15:25.
Forty-four seconds into the third period, on a power play, Fredrik Olausson scored his eighth goal to put Winnipeg ahead.
But the Kings came back at 8:21 when Robitaille turned a pass onto his stick from Gretzky into his second goal of the night and 14th of the season.
King owner Bruce McNall called the three-year contract extension given general manager Rogie Vachon “a just reward.” Said Vachon, “I’m just pleased with the way the team is shaping up. We’ve improved and we’re getting younger.” Vachon merely shrugged when asked if the extension made up for the heavy criticism he took last season for trading Bernie Nicholls to the New York Rangers for Tomas Sandstrom and Tony Granato. “It comes with the job,” Vachon said. “Bernie had been here nine years and I knew it would be a rough road for a while. But I knew it was something we desperately needed. We got speed, we got younger and we knew Todd Elik was ready to play.” . . . Through 27 games, about one-third of the season, the Kings had 16 victories and 36 points. At that rate, they would wind up with 48 victories and 108 points, both club records. The current marks are 43 victories in the 1980-81 season and 105 points in 1974-75.