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Kings Are Powerless in a 2-0 Loss

Times Staff Writer

If the injury-plagued Kings didn’t think they had problems before, their view may be a little different this morning after a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night at Staples Center.

In one of their more disappointing losses, the Kings outshot the Blackhawks, 33-14, but could not get the puck past goaltender Jocelyn Thibault as they suffered their fourth defeat in five games before 18,118, their 11th sellout.

“We had a tough game Sunday [a 6-1 loss at Colorado] and we came out hard tonight, showing [the Blackhawks] that we were ready to play,” winger Craig Johnson said about the Kings, who had an 18-2 edge in shots in the first period.

“A couple of breaks here or there on one of our chances in the first period and it’s a different game.”

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But the Kings, who played without nine injured players, including Jason Allison, Adam Deadmarsh, Bryan Smolinski, Eric Belanger and Aaron Miller, had their four-game home winning streak come to an end.

It got so bad for Coach Andy Murray, who had to go with a lineup filled with recent minor-league call-ups, he pulled starting goaltender Felix Potvin after he gave up his second goal early in the third period.

“They’re NHL guys now,” Murray said about such players as Jerred Smithson and Jared Aulin, who made their Kings’ debut this month. “We’ve had games before where we had all types of chances with Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh in the lineup and we haven’t won. It was one of those situations tonight.”

After losing by five goals to the Avalanche on Sunday, the patchwork Kings fired shot after shot at Thibault, but the Chicago goaltender was up to the task.

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At one point nearly nine minutes into the first period, the Kings held a 13-1 advantage in shots.

The Kings had their best chance to score late in the period with a two-man advantage for nearly a minute -- thanks to consecutive penalties on Mark Bell and Lyle Odelein -- but came up empty.

With Chicago’s Theo Fleury in the penalty box for cross-checking Ian Laperriere with 34.9 seconds remaining in the first, Los Angeles opened the second period on a power-play but again came up empty-handed.

Moments after Fleury’s penalty ended, Chicago defenseman Nathan Dempsey charged up ice with the puck while fighting off a back-check. From the right circle, Dempsey got off a shot that squeezed by Potvin to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 2:21 into the second.

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The Kings struggled to regain control for the remainder of the period but they did receive a lift from hard-working forward Derek Armstrong, who drew a penalty on Chicago captain Alex Zhamnov for holding at 12:27. But again, the Kings’ power-play was powerless against Thibault.

Los Angeles, which had not lost at Staples Center since a 4-2 setback to Columbus on Dec. 5, gave up a goal to Chicago right wing Steve Sullivan early in the third to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead.

Sullivan’s goal was set up by a great play from defenseman Eric Daze.

By holding on to the puck for as long as he could, Daze was able to entice King defenseman Mathieu Schneider and Potvin to him before delivering a pass to Sullivan, who scored easily from the right side of the crease 56 seconds into the period.

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