LOS ANGELES (AP) - Luc Robitaille is closing in on Marcel Dionne, and that's good news for the Los Angeles Kings.
Robitaille ended a 14-game drought with two goals in Los Angeles' 4-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night. The 19-year veteran, whose 660 career goals are more than any left wing in NHL history, is one shy of Dionne's franchise record of 550.
``The record is going to be great for Luc to get, but the most important thing for Luc is that he wants these goals he's getting to help us win games,'' coach Andy Murray said. ``We're happy that Luc played well tonight and helped us win. He was deserving of the goals he got because he was on top of the puck and he was forechecking and skating.''
Robitaille made it 3-0 at 18:08 of the first, beating Brian Boucher from about 20 feet with a one-timer from the slot after getting a drop pass from Michael Cammalleri. The Kings' eight-time All-Star added an empty-netter with 49 seconds left. The goals were his first since his game-winner on Nov. 26 against Chicago.
``I've been getting more and more ice time and more chances. Therefore, sooner or later, a puck is going to go in,'' said Robitaille, who missed nine games in November with a fractured right leg and was benched for three consecutive games by Murray in mid-December.
Craig Conroy and Joe Corvo scored 50 seconds apart in the first period and Mathieu Garon earned his first shutout with the Kings, who won for the ninth time in 11 games following consecutive wins against second-place Dallas. They increased their lead over the Stars to four points.
Garon made 29 saves while winning for the 10th time in his last 11 starts. His other four NHL shutouts came with the Montreal Canadiens.
``It's great to get a shutout, but a win is more important,'' Garon said. ``We're winning right now and I just love it. We've got a pretty banged-up team, but we've been sticking together and working hard. We scored a couple of early goals tonight and it made it easier for everybody.''
Boucher, who made his season debut in a 4-1 loss at Los Angeles on Dec. 17, lasted only one period after giving up three goals on 12 shots. He was replaced by Curtis Joseph, who stopped all 13 shots he faced after allowing five goals in each of the Coyotes' previous two games.
``I don't think that we as a group worked as strong early in the game as they did, and that was the difference,'' Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. ``If you look at a team like Los Angeles, they are successful because they are pulling together in the same boat. Everybody is going in the same direction, everybody knows their responsibility and does their job.''
A delayed penalty led to the Kings' first two goals. Referee Mick McGeough had his hand raised to call a double minor against Phoenix defenseman Denis Gauthier for high-sticking Conroy when the Kings pulled Garon for an extra attacker and took the lead at the 11:46 mark.
Conroy got a cross-ice pass from Mattias Norstrom and beat Boucher to the stick side with a 20-foot wrist shot from the right circle for his 16th goal. As a result, Gauthier's penalty was reduced to 2 minutes. But the Kings capitalized on the ensuing power play when Corvo took a pass off the boards from Conroy, stickhandled toward the middle and slapped his eighth goal past a screened Boucher from just inside the blue line.
The Kings have 11 power-play goals in their last six games after going 0-for-12 in a 5-3 loss at Edmonton on Dec. 23. They have scored at least once with the man advantage in 12 of their last 13 contests.
The Coyotes, who had eight power-play goals against the Kings in four previous meetings this season, were 0-for-7 with the man advantage against a penalty-killing unit that had allowed a power-play goal in 11 straight games and 23 of their previous 24.
``Obviously, it feels good to go through a game where we didn't give up a power-play goal, because we haven't done that very often,'' Murray said. ``They have one of the better power plays in the National Hockey League. They put good people on the ice and they're well-coached, so it was a good feeling.''
Notes: The Coyotes reached the midway point of their first season with Gretzky behind the bench, and are third in the Pacific Division with a 20-19-2 record - 14 points behind the first-place Kings. ... Injury-plagued Phoenix C Petr Nedved returned to the lineup after missing four games because of a groin strain. But C Dave Scatchard, who missed the previous game with a groin injury, re-aggravated it in the first period on his sixth shift.
|Craig Conroy (16) ASST: Mattias Norstrom (14), Nathan Dempsey (6)|
1 - 0 LAK
|PPG - Joe Corvo (8) ASST: Craig Conroy (29), Denis Grebeshkov (2)|
2 - 0 LAK
|Luc Robitaille (6) ASST: Mike Cammalleri (15), Joe Corvo (14)|
3 - 0 LAK
|EN - Luc Robitaille (7) ASST: Derek Armstrong (13)|
4 - 0 LAK
|Matt Jones Hooking|
|Mike Cammalleri Interference against Mike Ricci|
|Denis Gauthier Hi-sticking against Craig Conroy|
|Tom Kostopoulos Interference against Ladislav Nagy|
|Tim Jackman Roughing against Sean Avery|
|Ladislav Nagy Hi-sticking against Tom Kostopoulos|
|Denis Grebeshkov Hooking against Ladislav Nagy|
|Geoff Sanderson Hooking against Alex Frolov|
|Mike Cammalleri Hooking against Keith Ballard|
|Derek Armstrong Too many men/ice - bench|
|Alex Frolov Tripping against Ladislav Nagy|
|Lubomir Visnovsky Tripping against Mike Johnson|
|Mike Ricci Hi-sticking against Mike Cammalleri|
|Mike Ricci Hi-sticking against Mike Cammalleri|
|Denis Grebeshkov Tripping against Ladislav Nagy|