Series (Game 1 of 1)

Los Angeles leads 1-0

Game 1: Friday, February 21st

Kings 4

(26-27-4, 60 pts)

Sabres 1

(17-30-5, 46 pts)

7:00 PM ET, February 21, 2003

First Niagara Center, Buffalo, New York

1 2 3 T
LA 2 1 14
BUF 0 1 01

B. Smolinski (Kings - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

Z. Palffy (Kings - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

E. Boulton (Sabres - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Amid trade rumors, Palffy scores twice

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- Ziggy Palffy showed Friday night why the Los Angeles Kings don't want to trade him.

Zigmund Palffy
Right Wing
Los Angeles Kings
54 24 34 58 10 37

Palffy and Bryan Smolinski each scored twice as the Kings beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. Palffy, the subject of recent trade rumors, has 14 goals and 29 points in the past 23 games.

''If we need any more stamp of approval why we want to keep him in Los Angeles (and) let everybody in the East know that he's not available, he's doing a pretty good job of it,'' Kings coach Andy Murray said. ''He's never really been marketed or shopped.''

Murray insisted Palffy will not be traded.

''He's a King now and he'll be in the future,'' he added. ''I like him the way he's playing right now.''

Palffy shrugged off all the talk.

''Who's doing the rumors?'' he said. ''Just you (the media), nobody else. What are you going to do?''

Smolinski, who also played alongside Palffy with the Islanders, knows he's a superstar.

''I've played with Ziggy for seven years and ... he's playing fantastic,'' he said. ''He's scoring, he's hitting ... he's turned into an awesome player.''

Smolinski attributed his own recent success -- seven goals and 11 points in his last 11 games -- to keeping the puck.

With his second goal, he equaled his total of 13 from last season.

''I'm kind of being a little selfish and shooting more,'' he said. ''(I'm) not putting too much pressure on myself to score. I know I need to score, but I guess it's just more burying the chances I do have.''

The Kings are 9-1-1 when Smolinski scores this season and 14-0-2 when he and Palffy score in the same game, dating back to 1999-00. This is the first time Smolinski and Palffy have both scored twice in the same game.

''Ziggy's carried our team a long way, and Bryan's chipped in a long way, too,'' Kings goaltender Jamie Storr said.

Eric Boulton scored for Buffalo, which lost to the Kings at home for the first time since March 15, 1993, breaking a seven-game unbeaten streak.

Ryan Miller had 37 saves for Buffalo and Storr had 31.

Palffy opened the scoring in the first period when he intercepted a Dmitri Kalinin clearing from along the boards inside the blue line and fired a shot past Miller from the inside of the left faceoff circle.

''Our first bad play was Dmitri's bonehead play through the middle of the ice,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. ''It really killed us.

Less than five minutes later, Smolinski wristed a weak shot from the right wing into the top-left corner of the net for his 12th goal of the season.

Boulton scored the fourth goal of his career 2:58 into the second -- his first goal since Nov. 19, 2001, a span of 67 games -- to make it 2-1.

Smolinski made it 3-1 less than two minutes later.

Palffy scored his 26th goal 13:52 into the third when he kept the puck on a two-on-one and put his own rebound past Miller.

''They get open and they get looks,'' Miller said. ''Give them some time and they'll get the puck in the net.''

Game notes

Buffalo's Adam Mair and Los Angeles' Erik Rasmussen played for the first time against their former teams since being traded for one another in July. ... Sabres forward Jochen Hecht could miss up to two weeks with a severely bruised right wrist after re-injuring it Monday against Atlanta. ... Kings forward Brad Chartrand had back spasms before the game and was scratched. ... The Kings sent forward Kip Brennan to Manchester of the AHL before the game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press