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KINGS NOTEBOOK: FISET ON INJURED RESERVE WITH GROIN-MUSCLE STRAIN.

Byline: Matt McHale Staff Writer

Just days after it appeared he would be the Kings' starting goaltender in the playoffs, Stephane Fiset was place on injured reserve with a strained right groin muscle.

Fiset, hurt during the second period of Saturday's 3-2 victory over Nashville, will miss at least three games and probably more. The groin, however, is not torn, which could have sidelined Fiset for the rest of the regular season.

Jamie Storr, who has shared the job with Fiset throughout this injury- plagued season, will start tonight when the Kings play host to the Detroit Red Wings at Staples Center.

``My job isn't to think about who the top goalie is,'' Storr said. ``My job is to prepare to play when my name is called. It doesn't matter if it is the second game or the 70th.

Marcel Cousineau, the top goaltender at minor-league Long Beach, practiced with the club on Monday and will be Storr's backup.

Storr suffered a similar injury during the opening week of the season. He also missed a month with a concussion. Fiset was out for more than six weeks after taking a shot off his right hand before the Nov. 6 game against Philadelphia.

When Storr struck the back of his head on the crossbar in Montreal on Dec. 11, Fiset was not ready to return. But coach Andy Murray stuck him in three nights later after Storr faltered against New Jersey.

``We have a lot of confidence in Jamie,'' Murray said. ``We've said all along that it takes two goaltenders to get through a season. This is the proof.''

Although neither goaltender has clearly outplayed the other, Murray has gone with Fiset in six of the last seven starts.

Fiset is 16-15-5 in 40 games with a 2.92 goals-against average. Storr set a career high for victories this season with a 14-10-3 record.

When Storr returned from his concussion in late January, Fiset was rested and given a chance to tinker with his mechanics in practice.

During that stretch Storr was named NHL Player of the Week. But he did not consistently play well and lost the top spot when Fiset returned.

``You definitely want to be in there, but the most important thing is what's best for the team,'' Storr said. ``This is an important stretch coming up. Whether it is Steph or me, we will get the job done.''

--Quick whistles: Bryan Smolinski, who also left the Nashville game with a second-period injury (corneal abrasion), will be back in the lineup tonight. Smolinski's vision cleared quickly Sunday when the Kings did not practice.

KINGS vs. DETROIT

Time:7:30 p.m., at Staples Center.

TV/Radio:Fox Sports Net; KRLA-AM (1110)

Matchup: The Kings have defeated the Red Wings in their last two meetings, the last time 3-2 on Feb. 18. The Kings and Detroit each entered that game with four-game winning streaks. The Red Wings have won four in a row entering tonight's game. Luc Robitaille's scoring streak ended at 15 games Saturday against Nashville. Bryan Smolinski's goal drought continued to nine games. Detroit, which is second in power-play conversions on the road (19.5 percent), is second to St. Louis in the Central. That puts the Red Wings fourth in the Western Conference. They would play the No. 5 seed in the first round of the playoffs. Right now that is Phoenix with 74 points, one ahead of the Kings.

- Matt McHale

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 7, 2000
Words:585
Previous Article:HEY, JACKSON, NHL HAS A TRIANGLE, TOO.
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