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Penner hoping scoreless drought about to end

by Curtis Zupke
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Dustin Penner reached the pinnacle of hockey four years ago when he lifted the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks.

He was 24 and an important piece of the franchise's future playing on the so-called Points Per Game Line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

The Los Angeles Kings winger could not have envisioned that it would be four years until he would play in another playoff game, or that he would be mired in one of the worst slumps of his career, a 14-game scoreless streak entering Tuesday night's Game 3 against San Jose at Staples Center.

"You're waiting for that dam to break," Penner said. "It's not fun and I don't know how you get in them, and if I knew how to get out of them I would be already. Right now it's just concentrating on bringing the hard work, and with that you get one of those lucky bounces. As long as we're winning, it really doesn't matter."

That the Kings are giving second-seeded San Jose all they can handle has somewhat shaded Penner's lack of production since he was acquired from Edmonton on Feb. 28 for defense prospect Colten Teubert, a first-round draft pick this summer and a conditional third-round pick in 2012.

Penner, a four-time 20-goal scorer, had 2 goals and 4 assists in his first 11 games with L.A. but has since been quiet. His drop-off coincided with the loss of linemate Anze Kopitar to a season-ending ankle injury, but Penner said that's not a factor.

"I'm playing with great players," Penner said. "It's up to me to pick up my slack and start producing."

Acquiring Penner was a bold move by Kings general manager Dean Lombardi to help a team that has sorely lacked an additional scoring winger. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Penner is a power forward who can drop anchor in front of the net.

Coach Terry Murray, who demoted Penner to the fourth line in Game 1, said he has seen encouraging signs from Penner and he remains patient.

"What I'm asking from him at this point is to give me the hard work, tempo, pace in his game every shift -- be a player that's going to play on the right side of the puck, do the right things, and the other side will come," Murray said.

"The offensive side will come. He's starting to get the looks because of his work, because of his concentration on the game on every shift. To me, it's only a matter of the next shift that he's going to be able to produce the results that we're all looking for. I'm not going to him and demanding that, but I am asking for that hard work on every shift. That's really important."

Penner can't remember the last time he went this long without scoring. For the record, he had a 14-game goal-scoring drought in 2008-09 with Edmonton, where he never made the postseason in four years.

That's why he has a different perspective this time around.

"It's a lesson for me and for the other guys to realize that it's hard enough to get to the playoffs," Penner said. "You never know when you're going to get another chance. Some guys play 10 or 12 years, like Olli Jokinen, and don't play in the playoffs. We're privileged to be in this spot, but we can't take it for granted."

Power play adjustments: Murray said he expected San Jose to have spent a lot of time working on its second-ranked power play, which is 0-for-7 in the series, and his staff has reminded their players of blocking shots, getting in lanes and not letting the Sharks get a 4-on-3 advantage down low.

"There's a lot of detail that goes into the penalty killing that has already been talked about here in our meetings this morning," Murray said.

Lewis in: The return of Jarret Stoll means that Trevor Lewis will be back centering the fourth line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Kevin Westgarth.

Lewis centered the second line and Oscar Moller centered the third line in Game 2.
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