Two things have become all but inevitable when the Kings play the Vancouver Canucks.
And Canuck left wing Martin Gelinas scores.
It happened again Wednesday night as the Canucks defeated the Kings, 5-2, before 13,861 at Pacific Coliseum. It was the Kings' fourth loss this season to the Canucks, and Vancouver extended its home-winning streak to nine consecutive games over the Kings. The Kings have not defeated the Canucks in Vancouver since April 12, 1992.
It was the Kings' second loss in their last eight road games, but they didn't drop in the standings, remaining in a second-place tie with the Canucks in the Pacific Division and in a sixth-place tie in the Western Conference.
What did them in again was a combination of factors: The road-weary Kings were playing their fourth game in five nights and third and final game of this latest trip. And finally, King goaltender Kelly Hrudey looked tired, another inevitability in his 12th consecutive start.
"I think we played tonight like a tired team," King Coach Barry Melrose said. "We were making mental mistakes. If we could have gotten through the first period, we would have been all right. We just didn't have the jump."
Hrudey allowed three goals on seven shots in the opening 14:35 and was pulled after the first period with the Kings trailing, 3-0. Which meant that Grant Fuhr entered the game in relief, his first action since the disaster in Dallas on March 6 when he gave up seven goals on 24 shots.
"Kelly was very tired last night (against Calgary)," Melrose said. "But he's so hot we thought we'd just ride it out. But we're done here now and we're going home tied with Vancouver. There are just 16 games left to battle to the end."
This time, Fuhr was a decided improvement, stopping Gelinas on a breakaway and star right wing Pavel Bure on two legitimate scoring chances. Fuhr faced 30 shots and allowed two goals in 40 minutes.
As always in a King-Canuck game, there was the ever-present scoring threat of Gelinas, a one-time King draft choice for all of two months before he was traded away in the Wayne Gretzky deal in 1988. Gelinas has scored 10 goals this season, but six of them have come in four games against the Kings.
He scored twice on Wednesday, at 14:35 of the first period against Hrudey and at 4:06 of the third period against Fuhr. On his first goal, Gelinas made a nifty move, beating King defenseman Darryl Sydor to the outside on the right wing and went in alone on Hrudey.
Additionally, the slumping Canucks were bolstered by Bure, who broke out of a scoring slump with his first goal in 10 games and added an assist.
"He should petition the league to play us more," Melrose said of Gelinas. "It would get him more money in his next contract."
Scoring for the Kings were Gary Shuchuk (second of the season) at 11:40 of the second period and Randy Burridge (third) at 11:41 of the third, on the power play. Defenseman Rob Cowie had assists on both goals.