Finally, Kings Get a Victory : Hockey: Druce, with his first two goals of the season, stars in 4-2 win over Jets, his former team.
Right wing John Druce and 19-year-old rookie goaltender Jamie Storr were nowhere to be found in the Kings’ lineup when the season started a little more than a week ago.
But with the Kings floundering, the newcomers finally helped provide something different--a victory.
The Kings were the final team in the Western Conference to win a game, defeating Winnipeg, 4-2, on Saturday night at the Forum before 15,115. It was Storr’s first NHL victory in three starts.
“It’s going to be the first of many, I hope,” Storr said. “I’m sure my dad will be proud. I was thinking he will be jumping around at home in Brampton (Canada) at 1 in the morning. He still can’t believe I’m here.”
The Kings (1-3-1) were off to their worst start since the 1984-85 season, when they opened 0-6-3.
They won Saturday night despite no points from Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri or Rick Tocchet, who had been carrying the offense.
So Druce stepped up and provided some offense against his former team, the Jets. Druce, who scored his first two goals of the season, broke a 2-2 tie with a brilliant solo rush, scoring an unassisted goal from the middle of the right circle with three minutes remaining in the second period. He went around Jet defenseman Igor Ulanov, making him look like a pylon.
Then Druce gave the Kings some breathing room at 3:50 of the third period, scoring on another strong effort as he skated out of the left corner and fought off two Jets. Druce moved to the front of the net and shifted to his forehand, beating goalie Tim Cheveldae low on the glove side.
Druce, who played 50 games for the Jets in the 1992-93 season, was not in the King lineup for the first two games, and King Coach Barry Melrose never gave a clear explanation. Storr found his way into the starting role when goaltenders Kelly Hrudey and Robb Stauber were injured in the same game last week.
Four goals for the Kings can be considered an offensive explosion. Center Kevin Todd added two assists and the other two goals came from rookie Eric Lacroix and defenseman Darryl Sydor, who opened the scoring at 11:58 of the first on a power play.
The unusual burst of offense gave Storr a new comfort level. Once the Kings established a two-goal lead, Storr looked sharp in the third period, stopping Alexei Zhamnov point blank at 8:03 and then making a glove save on left wing Keith Tkachuk about 30 seconds later. He grew stronger as the game went on and faced 24 shots.
There was one note of concern for the Kings when they lost defenseman Rob Blake in the second period because of a groin strain and bruised hip. Blake, who assisted on the Kings’ second goal, left the game with at 2:07 of the second period to receive treatment. He is not expected to play tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.
He tried to return about 7 1/2 minutes later, but the attempt lasted only one shift. Blake returned to the dressing room at 11:12 of the second. His departure left the Kings with five defensemen: Alexei Zhitnik, Michel Petit, Marty McSorley, Sydor and Charlie Huddy, who had been in Melrose’s poor graces and was scratched the last two games.
Among those sitting out was right wing Tony Granato, whose play has been less than stellar, along with a handful of King forwards. Granato was limited to 50 games last season and scored only seven goals.
Right wing Kevin Brown, who was called up from the Kings’ minor league team in Phoenix on Friday, made his NHL debut and went pointless but nevertheless turned in a strong physical performance.