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Kings outlast Rangers 2-1 for 7th consecutive win

by Josh Brewster

LOS ANGELES -- The addition of Olli Jokinen did nothing to help the New York Rangers' struggling offense, especially their powerless power play.

Anze Kopitar scored a shorthanded goal late in the second period to break a scoreless deadlock as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Rangers 2-1 on Tuesday night for their seventh consecutive victory.

The Kings are on their longest winning streak since early 1992, when Wayne Gretzky's Kings won a franchise-record eight straight. It was their first game back after 5-0-0 trip that ended with weekend wins at New Jersey and Boston.

"We had a 5-0 road trip, and everybody is feeling great and confident," Kopitar said. "I think that speaks for itself. Coming here after 12 days (away), we knew the crowd was going to be good, and we came out strong. Sometimes you need a little change on the road to come together again."

With Matt Greene in the box for a delay of game call, Rangers coach John Tortorella opted to use five forwards -- including Jokinen and Chris Drury on the points -- in a scoreless game. The strategy backfired when Marian Gaborik, backed up along the boards in the offensive zone, attempted a cross-ice pass to Drury. The puck skipped through King captain Dustin Brown's legs to Kopitar, who blew past Drury, led a 2-on-1 against Jokinen and beat Henrik Lundqvist high over the glove side at 16:43 for his 24th of the season and first while shorthanded.

Jokinen didn't make a move toward Kopitar, who was delighted to have plenty of room to get off a shot.

"I am not sure what Jokinen was thinking giving me a clear cut to the net, so after that I just decided where I was going to shoot, and shot it," Kopitar said.

It went into the record books as an unassisted goal, but Kopitar knew that teammate Dustin Brown played a role.

"Browny really ruptured that pass," said Kopitar of the pass that skipped through Brown's legs and onto his stick.

It was yet another failure by the Rangers' power play, which went 0-for-3 in L.A., 0-for-12 on a three-game trip and is stuck in 3-for-48 and 7-for-82 slumps.

"It was terrible tonight, and it cost us in the second period," Tortorella said of his power-play unit. "We beat ourselves there a little bit. It's just not scoring a power play goal, but giving up a shorthanded goal. It's been hurting."

The Kings poured on the pressure throughout the remainder of the second period, but Lundqvist prevented further damage shortly after, going post-to-post to stop a shot by Jack Johnson, who received a cross-slot pass from Alexander Frolov with 22 seconds left.

The Rangers had nine of their 21 shots in the third period, but Ryan Smyth gave the Kings a 2-0 lead at 11:14, taking a perfect pass from Brown in the Rangers' zone and again beating Lundqvist over the glove.

"He is making big plays every game," center Jarrett Stoll said of Brown. "Sometimes the things he does for us do not show up on the scoreboard, but he is huge for our team."

Defenseman Sean O'Donnell, who started the play, earned his 200th NHL point with the assist.

The Rangers made it interesting late when Erik Christensen found Gaborik behind Greene, and Gaborik beat Jonathan Quick from in close at 17:23 for his 34th of the season. But Quick stopped Ryan Callahan and Drury in the final seconds for the win -- leaving Lundqvist frustrated.

"Some games that you win you don't play that good," said Lundqvist, who returned after missing two games with the flu. "I think some of the losses we've been playing pretty good we just haven't found ways to win games. I'd rather play bad and win then play good and lose."

Both teams managed only 21 shots in the tight-checking game. Jokinen, acquired after playing for Calgary on Monday night, had four -- but was on the ice for both L.A. goals.

"We had a couple of good cycles, but I don't think we had enough chances," he said. "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."

Kings coach Terry Murray was delighted with his team's performance after flying coast-to-coast following Sunday's trip-ending win.

"It's hard coming back home with one day off from such a long road trip," Murray said. "I talked about the importance of bringing that attitude, coming back to your home building without cutting corners. I told them they had to get themselves ready now. I am very impressed with the leadership in that locker room."

Jokinen and Brandon Prust will make their New York debut on Thursday, when the Rangers host the red-hot Washington Capitals. He said he's glad the on-again, off-again, on-again trade is finally done.

"It's been pretty hectic the last couple of days, and it's part of the business," Jokinen said. "I'm disappointed we didn't get two points. It doesn't matter who you play with. You can't focus on that. It's about winning over here, and whoever plays well and hard is going to play here."

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