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[0] USUAL SUSPECTS LIFT KINGS STUMPEL, PALFFY KEEP L.A. UNBEATEN IN LAST FIVE KINGS 2, VANCOUVER 0.

Byline: Brian Dohn Staff Writer

The Kings and Vancouver Canucks were the two highest-scoring teams in the NHL, which never translates into a high-scoring game. Instead, it means altering the focus to stopping one another's offense, and the Kings did a much better job of it.

Third-period goals by Jozef Stumpel and Ziggy Palffy bolstered the strong defensive effort as the Kings extended their unbeaten streak to five games with a 2-0 victory against Vancouver on Thursday at Staples Center.

It was the second shutout for the Kings this season and goaltender Jamie Storr's first since Dec. 8, 1999 against Atlanta.

Storr was called upon to make 25 saves en route to recording his eighth career shutout. As a tribute to the strength of the defense, only a few of them thwarted quality scoring chances.

The Kings won for the first time in eight games in which they entered the third period trailing, ending a 0-6-2 drought. Los Angeles is 4-0-1 in its last five games.

The winning goal was a product of extended pressure in the Canucks' zone, something the Kings did plenty of during the last two periods. Still, they weren't able to break through until Stumpel's deflection goal at 5:18 of the third period.

After Vancouver goalie Felix Potvin made the first save off a deflection from the right point, Palffy gathered the puck in the slot but missed with his shot. However, rookie Tomas Vlasak, playing for the first time in three games, got control of the puck along the right boards, turned and fired a low shot toward the goal. Stumpel, stationed in front, deflected it through Potvin's legs to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.

The Kings gave the Canucks a chance to tie it when Kelly Buchberger went off a minute later for an interference penalty. The Kings' coverage in the defensive zone was splendid, yielding little room for the Canucks as it was much of the night, and Buchberger made amends for his penalty.

Upon exiting the penalty box, Buchberger corralled the puck along the boards and broke out on a 2-on-1 break with Palffy. Buchberger feathered a perfect pass over a fallen defenseman and Palffy finished into an open net to provide the Kings a 2-0 lead with 11:05 remaining.

After a blase first period, the Kings dominated puck possession despite shots being equal at 10 apiece. Los Angeles also got to loose pucks regularly to create prime scoring chances, but was either turned away by the posts or Potvin.

Mathieu Schneider picked up a loose puck in the left circle and beat Potvin to the glove side at the 7:05 mark of the second period, but the puck glanced off the post and ricocheted away harmlessly.

The Kings' fourth-ranked power play almost allowed a short-handed goal on Palffy's give-away. It resulted in a 2-on-1 break, but Storr stopped Peter Schaefer at the side of the net. A few minutes later Storr kept the game scoreless when he cut the angle on Greg Hawgood's back-hander from close range and made a chest save.

The best chance of the first two periods came in the closing seconds before the second intermission. The Kings forced a turnover in Vancouver's zone and Glen Murray fed Buchberger at the top of the left circle. Buchberger's shot deflected off the Kings' Nelson Emerson in front, and to Rob Blake.

But Potvin sprawled on his back on the ice surface and blocked Blake's shot, which he couldn't get in the air, from the right circle. It slid along the ice, off the post and then into Potvin's glove.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo: (color) Vancouver Canucks center Matt Cooke (right) moves by Kings center Jozef Stumpel during Los Angeles' 2-0 victory

John Hayes/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 10, 2000
Words:630
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