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Goalie Garon shakes off the rust

Times Staff Writer

Mathieu Garon wobbled back into the lineup last week.

He returned from a month on the shelf after a groin injury and gave up four goals against the Edmonton Oilers. The Kings bailed him out by scoring seven. He was less fortunate next time out as he was pelted in a 6-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

A week later, Garon has resembled the guy who was the NHL defensive player of the month in December of last season, allowing two goals in his last two starts, both victories.

His shutout Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets was a nice change of pace for the Kings’ goaltender, but his play in a 4-2 victory Saturday was even more impressive.

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The Kings extended the season of giving into January, as Alyn McCauley and Rob Blake turnovers put them in a 2-0 hole against the Red Wings. But Garon held the line, stopping the next 27 shots, 17 in the second period, to give the Kings the opportunity to rally for a 4-2 victory.

“The first game [back from the injury] was tough,” said, Garon, who missed 12 games. “You’re going to be a little rusty. It gets better each game. I think I’m back to where I was before the injury.”

Garon has a 2.77 goals-against average and .904 save percentage, both serviceable numbers.

“He has made big saves when he has had to and we have done a good job limiting opportunities,” Coach Marc Crawford said this week.

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Dan Cloutier, meanwhile, continues to work with goaltender coach Bill Ranford while recovering for hip and knee injuries.

The Kings are giving up 3.47 goals a game, ranking them 28th out of 30 teams. Without Cloutier, they are giving up 2.85 goals a game. The Kings have a 4-2 record since Cloutier went out with injuries.

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The Kings will not immediately replace Al Murray, who was fired as director of amateur scouting Friday, or the others in his department who were dismissed.

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Instead, those already in the organization will assume the duties.

TONIGHT

vs. Edmonton, 7:30, FSNW

Site -- Staples Center.

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Radio -- 1150.

Records -- Kings 16-22-5, Oilers 19-18-4.

Record vs. Oilers -- 1-0.

Update -- The Kings have won back-to-back games for the only the fourth time this season, but they haven’t won three straight yet. They have given up the first goal in 17 of their last 20 games. Edmonton has labored of late, losing eight of its last 11 games. But forward Ryan Smyth has five goals and nine points in six games since returning from a fractured right thumb.

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Tickets -- (888) 546-4752.

chris.foster@latimes.com


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