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Kings Work Hard for Some Time Off

Times Staff Writer

The game had just about everything in it, and at the same time, nothing was really settled.

There was a soft goal allowed by Roman Cechmanek on a 65-foot shot, another goal in a growing line of stellar ones by Alexander Frolov and, again, another King injury, this one affecting the vision of All-Star defenseman Mattias Norstrom.

But the Kings and Calgary Flames neither harmed nor helped each other’s budding playoff hopes after a 4-4 tie Tuesday before 14,169 fans at the Pengrowth Saddledome.

Calgary right wing Jarome Iginla scored three goals, but the Kings came back twice from two-goal deficits, granting both teams a point. The result placed the Kings, Calgary and Nashville in a three-way tie for sixth place in the Western Conference.

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The Kings, already without Lubomir Visnovsky, their highest-scoring defenseman, lost Norstrom past the halfway point of the first period after he sustained blurry vision in his right eye. It is not known if the Kings’ captain will be able to play in Sunday’s All-Star game in St. Paul, Minn., or if he will be ready for the Kings’ next game, Feb. 10 against the Minnesota Wild. Norstrom will be examined further today in Los Angeles.

“There was no contact, no blow to the head,” King Coach Andy Murray said. “There was a bit of a blind spot. They just felt it was best he didn’t play. I think it’s probably just a temporary thing.”

The game was filled with an enormous amount of subplots for an early February game. The teams came into the game tied for seventh in the West and the coaches, Murray and Calgary’s Darryl Sutter, are coach-of-the-year candidates in many circles.

Not to mention the possibility of the Kings’ first sweep in 31 back-to-back visits to the league’s Alberta teams, an opportunity that presented itself when the Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, 4-3.

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There is always unexpected intrigue when the inconsistent, unpredictable side of Cechmanek shows up. He allowed a goal from just outside the blue line in the first period that put the Kings in the first of their two-goal deficits. Cechmanek, who had been on a 5-1-1 surge, allowed three goals in 13 shots before being replaced by Cristobal Huet 1:31 into the second period.

Iginla’s second goal was either highlight or lowlight material, depending on perspective. As Iginla was being pulled down by Eric Belanger, he fired an off-balance shot from outside the blue line that hit Cechmanek’s stick and trickled into the net for a 2-0 Calgary lead.

“The puck had a lot of spin,” Cechmanek said. “I was watching the guys in front of me. It happens sometimes. Hopefully it’s the last time.”

Dean McAmmond’s clean shot from the slot ended Cechmanek’s evening.

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“Roman didn’t have one of his better nights,” Murray said.

Huet gave up a breakaway goal to Iginla at 4:12 of the second period but stopped 21 of 22 shots. With the Kings down, 4-2, Frolov busted through Calgary defensemen Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr, then had the puck slip off his stick and between the legs of goaltender Jamie McLennan at 7:11 of the second period.

Luc Robitaille tied the score at 4-4 after knocking in a perfect cross-ice pass from Derek Armstrong at 17:21 of the second period. Robitaille, who has more points against the Flames than any other franchise in his 18 seasons, has a point in eight of nine games since he was a healthy scratch for two games.

The Kings didn’t sweep the Alberta teams, but they’ll take three of a possible four points.

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“We persevered,” right wing Trent Klatt said. “That’s the way this type of team is built and the way we have to play. Keep scratching, keep digging.”


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