Kings No Cure for Senators, 8-6 : Hockey: Ottawa loses and remains without a point in 33 games on the road.
The Ottawa Senators’ fateful march toward the ultimate in road futility continued, uncluttered by any success whatsoever.
Now, it is 33 games on the road without so much as a point as the Kings defeated the Senators, 8-6, Thursday night before a sellout crowd of 16,005 at the Forum.
Maybe everyone was curious about the expansion Senators, hoping to say they were there when Ottawa finally won a road game. But the Senators carried on as they are fast approaching the road record for futility set by the Washington Capitals in the 1974-75 season.
That season, the Capitals went 37 games without a road victory, eventually finishing with one win. Tuesday, the Senators got close, venturing into overtime before losing to the San Jose Sharks.
But the Senators have not been playing as poorly lately, recently defeating Pittsburgh at home over the weekend. In their first meeting with the Kings in January, the Senators led, 2-0, but eventually lost, 3-2.
“It’s really a frightening game for a coach,” King Coach Barry Melrose said. “You don’t want to be the first to lose to them.”
Said Tony Granato: “You don’t want to be the team they break through against.”
The Kings had more than enough offense to survive a shaky outing by goaltender Rick Knickle. Knickle, who made his second consecutive start, played his first clunker since joining the Kings late last month. Even in his two losses with the Kings, Knickle looked sharper than he did on Thursday. He faced 29 shots and made 23 saves.
“It was one of those games,” Knickle said. “I was thinking a little too much instead of reacting. I don’t think I played badly, but some of the goals weren’t me.”
The Kings (29-29-7) maintained their one-point lead over fourth-place Winnipeg in the Smythe Division. Their lead is 11 points over fifth-place Edmonton.
Essentially, it was a perfect game for the Kings to pad their scoring statistics even though their defense did not look too great. The tone was set with eight goals in the first period, the Kings taking a 5-3 lead, scoring five goals on only 11 shots. Starter Peter Sidorkiewcz was replaced by former King Daniel Berthiaume for the final two periods.
Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille, as they did on Tuesday, led the offense. Gretzky had four assists and Robitaille scored twice --his 44th and 45th goals --and added two assists. Defenseman Marty McSorley had three points on one goal and two assists and rookie defenseman Alexei Zhitnik had three assists. Center Jimmy Carson, ending a six-game goal-less streak, scored twice.
The Senators were most dangerous on the power play, even though they ranked last in the NHL coming into the game. Ottawa scored on its first four power plays and finished four of five. Right wing Bob Kudelski, a former King, scored his 22nd goal of the season and added two assists.
Videotape does not lie dept.: Defenseman Marty McSorley was assessed a five-minute major for cross-checking the Flames’ Theoren Fleury near the end of last Tuesday’s game. The major also meant an automatic game misconduct and an automatic three-game suspension because McSorley had received three other stick-related major penalties this season. McSorley contended it couldn’t have been a cross-check since his stick was on the ice. So the Kings sent the videotape to the NHL, attempting to have the suspension rescinded. Thursday morning, Jim Gregory, vice president of the NHL’s Hockey Operations, agreed with the Kings and reduced McSorley’s offense to a two-minute penalty for instigating, five minutes for fighting and an automatic game misconduct. This meant McSorley could play against the Senators. . . .Center Corey Millen (strained groin) and defenseman Brent Thompson (abdominal strain) were examined by the Canucks’ team physician, Ross Davidson, on Thursday in Vancouver. Davidson, who was unavailable for comment, is considered a specialist on abdominal strains, having performed abdominal wall procedures on about a dozen NHL players in the past few years. Surgery, however, is considered a last resort.