Scoring slumps ended, the power play flickered to life and for once the Kings didn't have to rely solely upon stellar goaltending to secure a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.
The crowd of 12,105 at the Forum watched the Kings' best offensive effort since a one-sided blowout of the New York Islanders last month. This time, 12 players figured in the scoring and the Kings scored on three of seven power-play opportunities, the first time in 18 games they have had more than one power-play goal.
The balance helped give goaltender Byron Dafoe some support as he faced only 26 shots on goal. "He's not used to 20-some shots," King Coach Larry Robinson said, kidding. "Once he gets 50, he gets into the game more."
After losing five consecutive games on a recent trip, the Kings (12-10-6) are unbeaten in their last three games and have lost only three times in 14 home games.
A trio of Kings emerging from scoring slumps led the effort as they won it with a four-goal second-period outburst, which included three goals in a span of 3:26.
The league's rookie scoring leader Vitali Yachmenev scored for the first time in nine games, picking up his 11th of the season, on the power play at 9:25 of the first.
"I wasn't worried, I'm just trying to focus on playing a good game," he said. "But yes, it's nice to score a goal. We did almost everything he [Robinson] wants us to do. That's why we won."
Then there was Jari Kurri, who scored only his second goal in the last 16 games and added two assists for a three-point performance.
And Wayne Gretzky scored his first goal in nine games and had two assists.
"We've been pretty solid at home," Gretzky said. "And we're only six points behind Colorado, and we're hanging in there tight."
Was he worried about his line not producing?
"You always look at it to see if you're not getting any chances," he said. "The first three games of the trip, we weren't getting a lot of opportunities, but in the last two we were. We didn't change anything. We just finished our opportunities."
Also scoring for the Kings were forwards Pat Conacher and Kevin Todd, and defenseman Philippe Boucher added a power-play goal, his second goal in three games. Tony Granato had two assists.
Although center Robert Lang had only one assist, he played one of his strongest all-around games of the season, showing plenty of speed and turning in a solid effort on the penalty-killing unit.
Robinson praised Lang and was pleased with the performance of the entire line--Lang and wings Conacher and John Druce.
With three days off since their last game, Robinson was concerned about the Kings getting off to a quick start in the first period and made it the subject of his pregame talk.
"We played with a lot more intensity when we played our game," he said. "When we tried to do too much, we ran into trouble. We want to make the beautiful play, and a few times Byron had to bail us out."
For once, it was the other coach who was upset with the play of his team. Jet Coach Terry Simpson used an expletive to describe the play of his top line of Keith Tkachuk, Eddie Olczyk and Teemu Selanne.
"I didn't like the way we played from start to finish," Simpson said. "We didn't execute at all in any of three zones. That's not nearly as good as you have to be on the road."
Among the scratches were forwards Vladimir Tsyplakov (strained right shoulder) and Kevin Brown (hip flexor) and defenseman Sean O'Donnell. O'Donnell is not injured, and King Coach Larry Robinson previously said that O'Donnell has been struggling positionally, which is why he decided to move Marty McSorley back to defense after only one game up front. O'Donnell has missed one other game, against Florida on Nov. 18. . . . Defenseman Rob Blake, recovering from major knee surgery, is off his crutches and has returned to work--at least for Prime Sports. Blake is working on the pregame show at home games and will provide insight into the visiting teams.