Kings no match for Canadiens

Times Staff Writer

Guy Carbonneau on the premises, a questionable ruling and another loss.

The outcome never really does change for the Kings against the Montreal Canadiens, does it?

OK, it’s a stretch to compare anything present day to 1993 -- though some Kings’ fans probably still have nightmares about Carbonneau laying on top of the puck in the crease in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals and no call coming.

Montreal’s 5-2 victory against the Kings on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center didn’t come down to such last-second high drama.


The bit of controversy came early when a power-play goal by Kings defenseman Tom Preissing was disallowed in the first period. Forward Kyle Calder was said to have impeded the movement of Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak, making his first start of the season. However, replays didn’t support that judgment.

“Calder did a great job in front of the net and I didn’t think he impacted the play at all,” Kings Coach Marc Crawford said. “The letter of the law, I suppose, he had his heel in the crease, but it didn’t impede the goaltender at all. I would venture a guess that 99 of 100 times that that play is made, the goal is allowed.”

Not that a fair amount of fans among the sellout crowd of 18,118 at Staples minded much. There was a vocal fan base supporting the Canadiens, who were making their first appearance to Los Angeles in four years, arriving with the league’s best power play and a sparkling offense (seven players with 43 or more points).

This victory held special meaning for Montreal, which moved into first place in the Eastern Conference, briefly jumping a point ahead of New Jersey, which regained the lead later Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over Toronto.

Guillaume Latendresse scored once and added an assist, as did Andrei Kostitsyn, and defenseman Roman Hamrlik recorded two assists.

“It’s a good thing and a bad thing that we haven’t played our best hockey yet,” said Carbonneau, in his second season as Montreal’s coach. “We’ve been scoring goals, but we don’t have that defensive intensity we’re going to need. Two months ago, I wouldn’t have thought about being in first place.”


The Kings’ goals came from Rob Blake (his seventh), on the power play, and Anze Kopitar (his 29th), who added an assist. The good for Blake -- it was his 700th career point -- was undercut by his minus-three showing. Kings rookie goalie Erik Ersberg, on his 26th birthday, ended his shutout streak at 90 minutes 51 seconds when defenseman Patrice Brisebois scored at 5:09 of the second.

“They were pretty tough goals,” said Ersberg, who had his first NHL win Thursday, beating Ottawa, 2-0. “The first two were deflected off our own skates, and the other two were lateral passes.”

Said the Kings’ Dustin Brown: “He has that calmness about him where he just makes it look very routine when he makes saves. The positive thing is his demeanor didn’t change at all whether they score on him or he made a big save.”

Brown was asked to evaluate the Canadiens.

“Maybe it’s because I play in the west, but it’s a lot harder playing against Western teams,” he said.

“It wasn’t that physically demanding [today]. They had [Michael] Komisarek, who can hit pretty good. But it seems like all the Eastern teams we play, the style is a lot different than it is out west.”