LOS ANGELES — Anze Kopitar scored
a short-handed goal and Jonathan Quick made 20 saves in the Los Angeles
Kings' seventh straight victory, 2-1 over the punchless New York
Rangers on Tuesday night.
Ryan Smyth scored with 8:46 to play
for the Kings, who are on their longest winning streak since early
1992, when Wayne Gretzky's Kings won a franchise-record eight straight.
Marian Gaborik scored with 2:37 left
to ruin Quick's shutout bid, but New York lost its sixth in seven games
despite the arrivals of forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust,
acquired in a trade with Calgary less than 24 hours earlier.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 19 shots for
New York, which had a handful of tantalizing chances after Gaborik
scored his fourth goal in two games.
But not even a trade for two tough
forwards could spark the Rangers, who had scored just five goals during
a five-game skid before Sunday's 3-1 win at Colorado. Gaborik had a hat
trick in the victory, but the Kings largely shut down his new line in
the Rangers' final stop of a Western road swing.
After winning five straight road
games on the lengthy trip necessitated by the Grammys occupying Staples
Center, the Kings returned home to a sellout crowd mostly cheering for
them, and not the always-popular Rangers. With gritty wins over
Buffalo, Detroit, Boston and New Jersey, Los Angeles reclaimed its
stride during the trip, which followed a lackluster seven-game
Jokinen and Prust made their Rangers
debuts after Monday night's trade with Calgary sent Christopher Higgins
and Ales Kotalik to the Flames. The Rangers immediately got what they
expect from Prust, the rambunctious forward who is second in the NHL
with 18 fighting majors.
Less than eight minutes into his
first game, he put a nasty check on Jack Johnson, running the Los
Angeles defenseman horizontally into the boards behind his net for a
penalty. Prust then drew an instigator penalty, a fighting major and a
10-minute misconduct for a brief bout with Brandon Segal midway through
the second period.
After 36 scoreless minutes, Kopitar
scored on a 2-on-1 break after a turnover. After a midseason swoon, the
Kings' first-quarter NHL scoring leader has 11 points during the
Smyth then capitalized on a slick,
short pass by Kings captain Dustin Brown past frozen Rangers defenseman
Michal Roszival, roofing a quick shot for his 17th goal.
The Rangers finally scored when Erik
Christensen flipped a pass in front for Gaborik, who deflected it home
from the lip of the crease for his 34th goal.
The oft-traded Jokinen played
his first two NHL seasons with the Kings, who drafted the Finnish
forward with the third overall pick in 1997. Los Angeles eventually
traded him for Ziggy Palffy. … Jokinen and Prust both played in
Calgary on Monday before learning of the trade, but both made it to Los
Angeles before this game. … Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier dropped the
ceremonial first puck.
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