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Jokinen's debut just another loss for Rangers

by John Kreiser
The New York Rangers hope Olli Jokinen is the offensive-minded center they've been looking for. His first game with the Blueshirts was something less than a rousing success.

A weary Jokinen had four of the Rangers' 21 shots, but was on the ice for both Los Angeles goals as the Kings beat New York 2-1 at the Staples Center on Tuesday.

Jokinen played for Calgary in Monday's 3-0 loss to Philadelphia, then was traded to the Rangers along with forward Brandon Prust for forwards Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins. He hopped a plane and was in the starting lineup for the Rangers, who've struggled to get goals from anyone not named Marian Gaborik.

"It's part of the business," Jokinen said. "You have to be prepared to play, and that's the bottom line. But it's most disappointing we didn't get the two points."

Coach John Tortorella gave Jokinen plenty of work, using him on a regular shift and on the point during the power play -- a strategy that came back to bite him late in the second period, when New York opted to go with five forwards, including Jokinen and Chris Drury on the points.

The Kings broke a scoreless tie late in the second period when Anze Kopitar picked up a bad pass, blew past Drury and scored a shorthanded goal with Jokinen the lone man back on a 2-on-1 break.

Jokinen was also involved in the Kings' second goal. His pass was broken up by Sean O'Donnell at the Los Angeles blue line, triggering a rush that ended in Ryan Smyth's goal at 11:14 of the third period.

In all, Jokinen played 20:34, most of it centering for Gaborik and Vinny Prospal. Gaborik had the Rangers' lone goal late in the third period while double-shifting with the fourth line.

"We had a couple of good cycles, but I don't think we had enough chances," he said afterwards. "We have to take more pucks to the net. I think we can be a lot better than way. We have to take the puck more to the net and shoot it."

Tortorella wasn't unhappy with his newcomers, though he's still trying to work out where they'll fit in.

"He competed. Brandon competed," Tortorella said, "As far as where they fit in, I'm still not sure how it's all going to work out."

Despite the loss, his new teammates are glad to have Jokinen aboard.

"I played against him a few times when he was in Florida," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "Great shot. Good speed. I think he's going to add another level on our power play. He's a big guy and can play physical as well. He's going to be good for us."

Added forward Ryan Callahan: "He'll be a power guy for us."

And what is Jokinen looking forward to as he heads to New York for his first game as a Ranger on Thursday night against Washington?

"I can get some sleep for the first time in a few days and move on," he said. "It's been pretty hectic the past couple of days."

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