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For Kings, This Tie Really Hurts

Times Staff Writer

There was really only one conclusion to reach after yet another King player hobbled off the ice.

Staples Center must be cursed.

Surely, it is time to call in some expert on these matters. Winger Martin Straka hasn’t been here long, but he became the latest in a long list of injured Kings in their 2-2 tie against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 18,118 at Staples Center.

The Kings have gone 11 games without a victory, going 0-3-7-1 in that stretch, their longest winless streak since a 16-game drought in the 1981-82 season.

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All the King offense came from right wing Trent Klatt, who scored two power-play goals, his 10th and 11th of the season, in creative fashion. The first, at 19:37 of the first period, came after a Derek Armstrong blast went off his stomach. The puck dropped in the right place and Klatt put it past Blue Jacket goalie Marc Denis.

His body didn’t have to take such abuse on the second goal. Klatt scored with 3:50 left in the second period to make it 2-2 just as the King power-play was about to expire, redirecting a shot from the lower edge of the left circle.

“On our power plays, we’ve just got to score goals,” Klatt said. “It doesn’t matter who is out there. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for both of them.

“If you take a look at the last 10, 12 games, if we had had a couple more power-play goals, I think we would have had a few more wins and not as many ties.”

The upside: The Kings were two for two on the power-play opportunities.

The downside: Straka’s left-knee injury.

He went down with 6:40 remaining in the second period after a knee-on-knee collision with Columbus defenseman Anders Eriksson. Referee Kerry Fraser helped Straka get off the ice, and as soon as Straka got to the bench, he went to the dressing room.

Straka did not return, and the Kings announced he had suffered a sprained knee. His status will be re-evaluated today, said King Coach Andy Murray.

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His injury comes a day after it was announced that star right wing Ziggy Palffy would be lost for the season because of a dislocated right shoulder. He is scheduled to have surgery on Monday.

Palffy suffered the injury in Wednesday’s 4-4 tie against the Mighty Ducks at the Pond, getting tied up with defenseman Todd Simpson.

Straka wasn’t the only King to leave Saturday’s game with an injury. In the third period, defenseman Joe Corvo took a blow to the left side of his head, as Columbus forward Rick Nash’s stick clipped him. Corvo left the game briefly but was able to return later in the third.

The Kings never led.

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The Columbus goals came from Eriksson and Todd Marchant. Eriksson scored his first of the season, only three seconds into a Blue Jacket power play, with a shot from the top of the slot, making it 1-0 at 2:14 of the first period.

Marchant’s 11th goal of the season gave Columbus a 2-1 lead at 1:06 of the second, as Geoff Sanderson took advantage of King defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky’s giveaway to the side of the King net.

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On Friday, Simpson spoke about the play leading to Palffy’s season-ending injury. “I think ... we both sort of went in different directions, and I kind of gave his stick a little tug,” he said after the Canucks beat the Ducks, 5-2. He joked about the real reason, saying: “I guess I should stay out of the weight room. Might be getting in there a little too much.”

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