UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -The East Coast never looked so good to the Los Angeles Kings.
Buried at the bottom of the NHL standings, the team Wayne Gretzky put on the map two decades ago is trying to find its way. An overtime loss and a win at the start of an eight-game road trip has suddenly made the time away from home seem not so bad.
Rob Blake scored a rare power-play goal in the third period and Jason LaBarbera made 28 saves to lift the suddenly surging Kings to a 3-1 victory over the slumping New York Islanders on Thursday night.
On the heels of an overtime loss in Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Kings are enjoying a seldom-seen upswing.
"Three points for us is a lot," Blake said of the Kings (21-29-3). "We understood the challenge at hand here coming on this type of a trip after the break. We had a good effort in Philly, and tonight we got the job done."
Blake shook off defenseman Radek Martinek in front and managed to get his stick on Dustin Brown's shot, squeezing it between the pads of backup goalie Wade Dubielewicz 7:22 into the third.
Matt Moulson also scored and Alexander Frolov sealed it with an empty-netter with 41 seconds left for the Kings, who still have an NHL-low 45 points. They are 6-2-1 in their last nine and are off to a good start on the 15-day trip that will take them through the entire Atlantic Division and to Detroit, Columbus and St. Louis.
Los Angeles is still 12 points out of a playoff spot.
"You can't really look at the big picture," LaBarbera said. "It's probably good for us to get out here and see something different and get away from the stuff we've seen a lot of this year.
"We've played well the first two games on this trip and hopefully we can just keep doing what we're doing."
Bryan Berard scored for the Islanders, who lost their sixth straight at home (0-4-2). New York is 4-6-4 in its last 14 and dropped below the playoff cutoff in the Eastern Conference with 30 games left.
"Before, we were in seventh place and looking to move up, and now we're out of a playoff spot," forward Mike Sillinger said. "There's still plenty of hockey left to play."
The Islanders had themselves to blame in this one. A penalty for too many men on the ice gave Los Angeles the power play that produced Blake's fifth goal.
New York didn't earn an advantage until Jeff Giuliano went off for tripping with 8:33 left, but the Islanders couldn't muster the tying goal on their only power play.
Dubielewicz fought off many Kings shots, popping up rebounds on several saves, but was steady enough in place of flu-stricken All-Star Rick DiPietro, who dressed as the backup. Dubielewicz earned his second start in four games and lost for the first time in four outings, dating to a defeat at Ottawa on Dec. 27.
|Wade Dubielewicz and his Islander teammate, Radek Martinek, look on as the Kings Anze Kopitar and Lubomir Visnovsky join teammates in celebrating a Rob Blake goal during the third period. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)|
Moulson, playing his fourth game with the Kings since being recalled from AHL Manchester, staked Los Angeles to a 1-0 lead 10:35 in with his fifth of the season and second in two contests.
After getting to a rebound of a shot by Michal Handzus, the 24-year-old rookie took a whack at the puck near the right post. He got it back, shifted around Dubielewicz's left pad and tucked the puck in the net.
The Islanders got even in the otherwise uneventful first period when Berard intercepted a clearing pass from Lubomir Visnovsky - who was harassed by captain Bill Guerin - and skated in alone on LaBarbera. He beat the goalie to the blocker side with 5:41 left in the period, scoring for the second straight game after being scratched the previous three.
New York held a 7-1 shots advantage early in the period but that was cut to 11-8 by the end of the frame thanks to three Kings power plays. As has been the story lately for Los Angeles, each advantage was killed.
Los Angeles owns the NHL's fourth-worst road power-play unit, and came in with only one man-advantage goal in 22 chances over the previous five games. The Kings finished 1-for-5 in their first visit to Long Island since Feb. 16, 2004.
"We know there is some sickness on that team right now and they battled like crazy," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "We were really good tonight. We didn't give up much."
The second period produced even less action than the first as the teams skated with nary a scoring chance to speak of. Los Angeles outshot New York 12-7.
"We didn't seem to be able to get anything going," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "That second period was like watching paint dry. They didn't have anything and we didn't have anything."
Notes: The Islanders were without LW Ruslan Fedotenko and D Andy Sutton for a second straight game due to the flu. Berard and Sillinger shook off the effects of the illness after sitting out practice Wednesday. ... Handzus hasn't scored a goal in 19 games. ... This is the Islanders' worst home stretch since a seven-game skid from Feb. 27 to March 29, 2001. They haven't won at Nassau Coliseum since beating New Jersey on Dec. 29.