Kings Take a Painful Turn in Loss

Times Staff Writer

The injury wave continued, the losing resumed.

Unable to build on Monday night's overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks, the Kings were outscored Thursday night by the Edmonton Oilers, 2-0, in front of 16,839 at the Skyreach Centre, losing for the 10th time in 13 games.

It didn't help that they played without Ian Laperriere -- whose back injury, suffered in the morning skate, left them without five regulars -- or that rookie Kip Brennan suffered a first-period knee injury that ended his workday early.

"That just typifies what's going on," King defenseman Mathieu Schneider said. "This is the craziest year for injuries I've ever seen."

Unsuccessful in 22 shots against goaltender Tommy Salo, whose shutout was his fourth of the season, the Kings were held without a goal for the third time in 12 games; three other times, they've scored once.

"It doesn't matter who we have in the lineup, when we put 20 players on the ice for a game, we expect to win," King Coach Andy Murray said. "Tonight, I think a lot of our players thought we played hard and you could probably look at us and say we battled. But when you don't win, you've got to play harder.

"There's no other answer to it. We've got to play harder."

Schneider isn't so sure.

"There are no definite answers," said the Kings' second-leading scorer. "I feel like we're doing what we can with what we have out there."

What they've had for the last month, during a slide that has taken them from five games above .500 to two games below, is a patchwork lineup.

It's long on heart but short on punch.

"We've got a lot of guys that do the same things," Schneider said. "They're grinders and good penalty killers, hard workers. But it's not getting us goals and it's not getting us points in the standings. That's been the most frustrating thing. It's a problem we have to solve and we have to solve it quickly."

Their latest loss turned sour for the Kings early on, Brennan colliding head-on with Oiler winger Georges Laraque, one of the league's most feared players, and limping off the ice about six minutes after the opening faceoff.

X-rays were negative but Brennan, who played 50 seconds, probably will be reevaluated today in Los Angeles and checked for a possible ligament tear.

In the game's 16th minute, with King defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky in the penalty box for hooking Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff scored a power-play goal from the left faceoff circle to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.

Through two periods, the Kings mustered only 10 shots.

They picked it up at the end, but by then the Oiler lead was 2-0 thanks to a heads-up third-period play by Todd Marchant, who intercepted a Ziggy Palffy pass in the Oiler zone and banked a pass off the boards up ice to the opportunistic Smyth.

Racing alone into the King zone, Smyth wound up as if to rip a slap shot before sliding a backhanded shot past Felix Potvin for his 19th goal.

"I think at that particular point in the game you're trying to create some offense," Murray said, unwilling to point an accusing finger at Palffy. "In that particular case, it didn't work out in our favor, but when you're down you've got to try to press the issue a little bit."

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