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Kings Lose Palffy to Injury

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ziggy Palffy’s fondest wish is to be in the NHL playoffs, and his mission since coming to the Kings has been to make that wish come true.

The wish still can come true, but somebody else has to take over the mission.

Palffy, who shares the team lead with Luc Robitaille with 66 points and is second in goals with 27, was ruled out for the next two to four weeks by doctors Thursday after suffering a sprained right shoulder Wednesday night when checked into the end boards by Mighty Duck rookie defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski.

Two weeks would put Palffy, a winger, back on the ice for a game against San Jose on March 29. Less optimistically, a return April 12 would probably coincide with the Kings’ first playoff game.

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The play, at 4:01 of the third period, left Palffy down on the ice for almost five minutes before he was helped off by trainer Pete Demers.

“I’ve looked at it a few times and it was a clean hit,” Coach Andy Murray said. “I wouldn’t complain about [it]. It’s part of the game.

“But Vishnevski led with an elbow on a hit on [Kelly] Buchberger, and I thought that could have been a penalty. I thought Kelly used real restraint in not retaliating.”

Buchberger also used restraint on teammate Sean O’Donnell, who was about to retaliate for him.

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The Kings and Ducks play three more times and it remains to be seen whether there is retaliation for either incident.

“Look, I don’t want to make any big thing about this,” Murray said. “I’m sure they thought we had some hits that should have been called penalties.

“I think Vishnevski is a great young player, but he’s a little careless. I’m sure that the next time we play, if Kelly Buchberger can get a clean hit on him, he will.”

None of that helps Palffy, who was examined Thursday morning and spent the rest of the day under medication, unable to talk.

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Murray called the four-week prognosis “conservative,” but said the Kings would “approach the situation the way we have all year. . . . We’ve had injuries and I think we’ve dealt with them pretty well.”

Palffy was traded to the Kings by the New York Islanders in June, and from Day 1 as a King, he has said that he wanted to make the playoffs.

“I think people say a player is good if he plays in the playoffs,” said Palffy, who led some bad Islander teams in scoring--in 1997-98, he had a personal-best 48 goals--and has never played beyond the regular season.

“I don’t know that I think that, but I know some people do,” he said. “I want that. I want to play in the playoffs.”

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He had goals in wins over Calgary and Vancouver in the last King homestand.

A slightly built Slovakian at 5 feet 10, 180 pounds, he also has been a target, particularly lately, because opponents have seized upon stopping him as a way to stop the Kings.

He will be replaced by Jason Blake for tonight’s game against St. Louis. Blake has four goals and 16 assists.

King Notes

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Backup goalie Marcel Cousineau underwent an emergency appendectomy Thursday after complaining of pain while in the dressing room preparing for practice. With goalie Stephane Fiset still out, Travis Scott has been recalled from Lowell of the AHL to back up Jamie Storr. . . . Winger Brad Chartrand also has been recalled from Lowell. He started the season with the Kings and had five goals and 11 points before being sent down. . . . Defenseman Aki Berg continues to progress after suffering a concussion Monday. He probably will not play until next week, and the Kings have only six uninjured defensemen.


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