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Kings break out of five-game scoring slump

12/1/2002

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Kings decided to keep things
simple and it paid off with a rare offensive outburst.

Derek Armstrong and Eric Belanger scored 27 seconds apart at the
end of a four-goal rally in the second period, and Mathieu
Schneider had two assists as the Kings beat the Chicago Blackhawks
4-1 Saturday night.

''We've been a little offensively challenged, but we found a way
tonight to get some goals,'' Kings coach Andy Murray said. ''A lot
of it was not fancy plays. It was going to the net hard, getting
our stick on some deflections and redirections.''

Erik Rasmussen and rookie Michael Cammalleri also scored for the
Kings, who had two goals in each of their previous five games.
Felix Potvin faced only 13 shots, including Kyle Calder's
power-play goal.

''That's as good a game as I've seen us play all year,'' Potvin
said. ''When you talk about defense, it's not just six defensemen
and the goalie playing back. It's the whole team that has to work
hard and come back. They did a tremendous job applying pressure on
them and keeping the puck out of our own end.''

Each team went more than 11½ minutes without a shot. The Kings
outscored Chicago 4-1 during a 8:14 span of the second period and
drove Jocelyn Thibault to the Blackhawks' bench after 23 shots. It
was Los Angeles' highest-scoring period this season.

''We just had to stick to the game plan, chipping the puck by
their forecheck and play good defensively,'' Belanger said. ''When
we play good defensively, that's when we get the most chances
offensively. And that's what happened tonight. We had scoring
chances and we buried them.''

The Kings broke through at 4:50 when Rasmussen cruised down the
slot and redirected Ziggy Palffy's centering pass from the left
circle past Thibault's glove.

Calder tied it 1½ minutes later, getting a pass in the slot from
Alex Zhamnov and lifting the puck over Potvin's glove during a
power play.

But the Kings regained the lead two minutes later with a
power-play goal of their own. Cammalleri batted the puck out of the
air past Thibault's glove after Jaroslav Modry's slap shot from the
right point was stopped.

''I thought our key goal was probably the Armstrong goal. That
was a real tough one for them to recover from,'' Murray said.

Schneider was just coming off the bench when he caught up to a
bouncing puck off the left boards in the Chicago zone and took a
one-timer that was tipped in by Armstrong. Belanger then put a
short backhander between Thibault's legs after getting a lead pass
from Mikko Eloranta.

Thibault was then replaced by Craig Andersson, and the Kings
went more than 12½ minutes before recording their next shot.

''When they score twice in 30 seconds, it kind of takes the wind
out of your sails,'' Chicago coach Brian Sutter said. ''We just had
a couple of breakdowns in the middle of the second period and it
cost us the game.''

The Blackhawks' shot total was their lowest of the season, after
getting outshot 36-18 in the 4-2 victory Thursday at Phoenix.
Defenseman Nathan Dempsey had their only shot on net in the third
period.

''You're not going to do much when you're down three goals and
you get only one shot in the third period,'' defenseman Jon Klemm
said. ''We didn't do enough to get pucks to the net. When I was out
there, I don't remember even skating in their zone a lot. We were
in our own end most of the night.

''We have a skilled hockey team, but sometimes we're too
unselfish. Guys have to be more selfish and take more shots. Goals
aren't always scored on pretty plays. In fact, it's the other way
around more often,'' Klemm said.

Theo Fleury, cleared by the NHL last Tuesday to practice with
the Blackhawks after serving a seven-week suspension for violating
the substance-abuse aftercare program, will not be disciplined by
the team for missing practice Friday.

Fleury overslept and missed the team bus by five minutes and
took a cab, but the driver got lost. It hasn't been determined when
the seven-time All-Star will make his Blackhawks debut.

Game notes
Schneider, who has 17 points, is one of two defensemen
currently leading his team in scoring. The other is Tom Poti of the
New York Rangers, with 22 points. ... Chicago center Tyler Arnason, the
NHL's rookie of the month for October with four goals and four
assists in nine games, finished November with two goals and three
assists in 13 games.