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Flyers crown penalty-plagued Kings 7-4

Friday, 12.31.2010 / 2:41 AM / Roundup

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Flyers crown penalty-plagued Kings 7-4
Philadelphia got 2 goals and 2 assists by captain Mike Richards and took advantage of Los Angeles' penalty problems to beat the Kings 7-4.
The Los Angeles Kings kept filling the penalty box. The Philadelphia Flyers were content to fill the net.

Philadelphia scored a pair of power-play goals in a 3:17 span during a four-goal second period and rolled over the Los Angeles Kings 7-4 on Thursday night. Mike Richards finished with 2 goals and 2 assists and Michael Leighton stopped 32 shots in his first game since losing Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final last June.

Jeff Carter and James van Riemsdyk had the power-play goals that turned a perilous 4-3 lead into a more-secure 6-3 margin. Carter scored at the 11-minute mark during the first of three 5-on-3 power plays, and van Riemsdyk ended rookie goalie Jonathan Bernier's night by scoring at 14:17 during a one-man advantage after the Kings killed off another two-man Flyers power play.

"We’ve got to be more disciplined," defenseman Matt Greene said. "We can’t be in the box the way we were. They’re a good team and they’re going to score goals if you give them opportunities and tonight we did that.”

"We’ve got to be more disciplined.  We can’t be in the box the way we were. They’re a good team and they’re going to score goals if you give them opportunities and tonight we did that." -- Matt Greene

Coach Peter Laviolette shook up his lines after Tuesday's loss at Vancouver and opted to start Leighton, who hadn't played this season due to a back injury that required surgery, overcame a shaky start.

"When you're off for a long period of time -- and you're coming off surgery -- and you step back into the National Hockey League, you're probably going to have to feel your way around a little bit," Laviolette said of Leighton. "It makes it tough on a goaltender. It was good for him to get through it and get some work."

The Kings, one of the NHL's stingiest teams, allowed 13 goals in losing to Phoenix and Philadelphia on consecutive nights.

"Over the last 120 minutes we’re just not playing well," Greene said. "That’s something that needs to change right away. If we want to win games, we can’t give up six and seven (goals) on back-to-back nights and expect to win any games.”

The game started off well enough for the Kings, with Ryan Smyth beating Leighton just 2:47 into the game and Justin Williams answering a goal by Danny Briere by making it 2-1 at 11:04 during a lengthy delayed penalty.

But Richards tied it again at 15:48, and goals by Scott Hartnell and Richards 66 seconds apart early in the second period made it 4-2. Jack Johnson's power-play slapper went through a screen and past Leighton at 8:11 to cut the lead to one before the Kings paid for their parade to the penalty box.

“We’re certainly not tightening up like we should be, and like we have all season," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "Tonight, I thought we were playing fine in the first period. The only two chances I think they got, the whole period, they buried them. That’s the way it goes sometimes. You try to shake it off, but certainly we’re going to need some work in that department.”

Smyth scored late in the second period to give the Kings some hope, but Ville Leino restored the Flyers' three-goal lead 9:10 into the third.

"It wasn't our best game, but sometimes you need to win ugly to get going," Briere said.

Blue Jackets 3, Maple Leafs 2 | HIGHLIGHTS

Thursdays are not Toronto's favorite night of the week. The struggling Leafs closed out 2010 by falling to 2-6-0 on Thursdays as the Blue Jackets won the Air Canada Centre.

R.J. Umberger's power-play deflection of Rick Nash's point shot 3:34 snapped a 2-2 tie and gave the Jackets back-to-back wins. Kristian Huselius scored the other two goals for the Jackets, while Nikolai Kulemin and Tyler Bozak scored for the Maple Leafs.

"It's always tough to lose, especially tight games like this," said goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who made 29 saves. "But we can't feel sorry for ourselves. We have to keep going and find a way to win the next game."

Columbus goalie Steve Mason stopped 20 of 22 shots as the Blue Jackets improved to 19-15-3. No one was happier about the win than Nash, a native of nearby Brampton, Ont.
"To come into Toronto and finally win one in regulation with all my friends and family here, it's pretty special," Nash said.

Kulemin opened the scoring at 15:19 of the opening period with his 13th of the season on a 2-on-1 with Clarke MacArthur. Toronto Marlies callup Darryl Boyce chipped the puck off the boards to Kulemin. He passed to MacArthur, who held the puck as long as he could before sliding it across the crease to Kulemin for the goal.

Huselius answered at 16:46, beating Gustavsson on a breakaway from center ice after Toronto's Phil Kessel gave the puck away in the Columbus zone.

Bozak's fifth of the season on the power play restored Toronto's one-goal lead with 18 seconds to play in the period.

Huselius' second goal tied it 6:47 into the second period. Toronto defenseman Francois Beauchemin had trouble with the puck behind his net; the puck took a funny bounce off the boards on a dump-in and deflected off Beauchemin's skate right onto Huselius' stick to the right of Gustavsson. Huselius went forehand-backhand before beating Gustavsson.

Avalanche 4, Oilers 3 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS

Colorado blew an early 3-0 lead but snapped a four-game slide when Milan Hedjuk scored the only goal in the shootout.

For NHL.com's complete story, click here
Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres