The Kings gave the Mighty Ducks shot after shot after shot to beat them Tuesday night. But the Ducks' Bob Corkum gave it all back by making a blunder that gave the Kings one crucial shot with 1:07 left in regulation.
A penalty shot.
Dan Quinn was King Coach Barry Melrose's choice to skate in alone on goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov for a dramatic last-ditch effort to tie the score after referee Dennis LaRue awarded the penalty shot, ruling Corkum deliberately dislodged the net in the final two minutes of play.
Quinn held onto the puck as he closed in on the net, finally lifting a simple forehand that beat Shtalenkov high on the stick side as he went down. The King bench erupted as Quinn scored the goal that eventually salvaged a 3-3 tie before 17,174 at The Pond. It also helped the Kings avoid what would have been a deflating defeat to the last-place Ducks, who had beaten the Kings the last three times the teams have played.
The Ducks managed the only official shot of the five-minute extra period, and finished the game with a 38-22 advantage after outshooting the Kings, 31-13 in the first two periods.
Corkum didn't want to talk about the mistake that cost the Ducks a chance to win, saying, "I have nothing to say." But Duck Coach Ron Wilson didn't dispute the call after Corkum clearly used his hands to push the net off its moorings from near the crossbar on the left side.
"As soon as I saw the net go up, I was hoping that wasn't (what happened)," Wilson said. "I was hoping Dennis LaRue would make a mistake, but he didn't.
"Honest to God, I don't know what Bob Corkum was thinking. That's what comes out of being tired. It ends up being demoralizing to get only one point."
The Kings were relieved to get the point.
"It was nice for us to get a break like that," said Wayne Gretzky, who assisted on the first two goals. "It was a blatant penalty. That was a must point for us."
Melrose, whose job is under pressure, couldn't agree more.
"One point is a lot better than nothing. Especially since this feels like about our 16th game in 12 nights."
Melrose picked Quinn to take the shot, deciding between him and Rick Tocchet from among the players on the ice.
"He's good on breakaways," Melrose said. "If he had missed, you'd all be writing about who should have taken it."
Shtalenkov, who was starting against the Kings instead of Guy Hebert partly because two of his five career victories have come against the Kings, faced a goalie's toughest task.
"I just thought, 'I have to stop his shot,' " Shtalenkov said. "He did it very good. It hit the post first and then in the net. It was just a very good shot and maybe I am a little unlucky. I'm not a hero, I can't say much. I have to stop it, but I didn't."
Wilson hoped the notoriously bad Pond ice would cause trouble.
"I was hoping that this late in the game, with our ice, whoever took it wouldn't be able to control the puck," Wilson said. "I wish I'd told (Shtalenkov) to stay on his feet."
The Kings had a 2-1 lead after two periods despite being badly outshot, and midway through the third period, they had stemmed the flow of shots to a trickle.
But Kelly Hrudey, who had stopped a barrage early, was caught on his knees twice in the third.
Duck rookie Paul Kariya had watched elegant passes by Gretzky, his idol, for most of the game, then Kariya used his speed to create a chance for defenseman Bobby Dollas. Hrudey made the stop, but seconds later the puck came out to Kariya in the right circle and he lifted his shot high to beat Hrudey, who was still on his knees. Kariya's goal tied the score, 2-2, at 10:10.
Barely a minute later, Kariya started the Ducks off again with a pass behind his back to Stephan Lebeau near the blue line. Lebeau skated in and took a shot, Hrudey went down, and Shaun Van Allen lifted the rebound for a 3-2 lead at 11:25.
Kariya's goal was his 11th of the season, and it extended his point streak to seven games. He's had more than one point in each of the last six games, and has 13 points in the last seven. His 24 points this season make him the NHL's leading rookie scorer.
The Kings fell behind 2:01 into the game when Duck rookie Steve Rucchin assisted Valeri Karpov on Karpov's second goal of the season.
But the Kings tied it at 8:07, breaking a 0 for 24 power-play streak, when Gretzky set up Tony Granato from behind the net.
The goal was hardly an indication that the power play has been cured. The Kings were held to a single shot on a power play that lasted 3:06 later in the first period--including 54 seconds with a two-man advantage.
Still, the Ducks made the same mistake twice, allowing Gretzky too much time and space behind the net a second time, and he found defenseman Michel Petit skating to the bottom of the right circle. Petit's goal at 16:34 of the second gave the Kings a 2-1 lead.