Blake Makes His Point for Kings
He had no goals, even no assists since before Halloween.
None since he had come back after an injury that cost him 15 games, none since serving a three-game suspension.
And the Kings had won, in large part because he was in the lineup.
Rob Blake got off the train to pointlessness Wednesday night, setting up goals by Ray Ferraro and Yanic Perreault in the Kings’ 5-1 victory over San Jose before an announced 10,918 at the Great Western Forum.
It was their fourth victory in five games and ended a five-game Shark unbeaten streak.
It has been five games since Blake served his suspension for slashing Vancouver’s Harry York.
“Points don’t do it,” Blake said of being without any for so long. “All they do is help you win the Norris Trophy. Guys just seem to play a little better when you’ve got all your people in the lineup, and we’re getting our players back.”
The Kings feed off Blake, who last season won the Norris, emblematic of the league’s best defenseman, and seldom was that more apparent than on Wednesday, when, up 1-0 on Matt Johnson’s goal, but down two players because of penalties, they killed off 1:32 of a 5-on-3 Shark advantage.
The penalty kill was marked by three board-rattling checks by Blake.
“I think the big turning point in the game was the five on three that we killed off,” Coach Larry Robinson said. “That seemed to take the wind out of their sails.”
Blake put some wind into the Kings later in the period, taking the puck in on the right wing and sending it to Donald Audette, who was tied up by the Sharks’ Ron Stern and spun around. Audette managed to get the puck to Ferraro, who fired it past San Jose’s Mike Vernon from 25 feet at 16 minutes.
San Jose cut that 2-0 lead in half on a second-period goal by Stern, but the Kings answered with Perreault’s power-play goal.
“He’s earned his way back on the power play tonight,” Robinson said of Perreault. “We’ve been hard on Yanic because we didn’t see the second effort to get the puck.”
The goal came when Blake skated in close and was hit by Stephane Matteau and spun around, shooting as he fell. The shot was wide, but Perreault was handy on Vernon’s stick side, putting in his first goal since Dec. 9.
The power-play goal was the sixth in nine games for the Kings, a ratio that isn’t exactly world class--Pittsburgh converted 12 consecutive power-play chances earlier in the season--but it sent the Kings’ power-play success percentage into double figures for the first time since anybody can remember.
They are 16 for 157 with a man advantage.
They are 10 for 148 with a man disadvantage, the figure accented by Glen Murray’s goal.
He took a pass from Ian Laperriere ahead of the field and San Jose’s Jeff Norton was unable to catch up to him. Murray’s goal, his 15th, came at 10:23 of the third period and finished off the Sharks.
It also made the special teams special for a night, and brought the Kings to within three points of Vancouver in the Western Conference playoff race.
It remained for Olli Jokinen to finish things off for the Kings, scoring at 13:35 on a pass from Murray that he backhanded off the post and past Vernon, just ahead of the stick of Luc Robitaille.
Robitaille was held without a goal and remains at 496 in his quest to become the 27th NHL player to score 500.
The Kings had taken a 1-0 lead on Johnson’s goal, his first since returning after serving his own suspension, that for 12 games. It was only his second goal of the season--he had only two last year--and it came on only his second shot.
Johnson redirected Laperriere’s pass from the right wing past Vernon at 2:28 of the opening period.
“There are enough veterans on this team that know how big each game is when you’ve struggled,” Blake said. “We won’t let anybody let up.”