<
>

King me: Demitra's wrister gives L.A. overtime win

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Kings have more players who
are capable of finishing plays around the net this season. Count
Pavol Demitra among them.

Demitra scored on a 40-foot wrist shot with 1:29 left in
overtime, Eric Belanger also scored and Mathieu Garon made 24
saves, leading the Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild
on Sunday night.

Tim Gleason sent Craig Conroy into the Minnesota zone with the
puck and he fed it to Demitra, who stepped around Wild defenseman
Nick Schultz and beat a screened Manny Fernandez to the glove side
for his second goal of the season.

"I couldn't see the shot, but I knew he was going high-glove,"
Fernandez said. "I saw his face move, I saw his head move and I
knew the shot was coming. I knew where he was going with it and I
knew I was beaten right away."

Demitra, who averaged 30 goals over his previous seven seasons
before signing with the Kings as a free agent in August,
acknowledged that he waited for the screen to develop before
letting it go.

"The defenseman tried to step up on me, so I faked, went around
him, got open space and took a shot," he said. "There were two
guys skating in front of the goalie, and I just shot as hard as I
could. They have a hardworking team, play a strong defensive game
and they're not going to open up too much at any time. So you have
to make the most of the chances you create against them."

Fernandez made 30 saves in his season debut after missing the
first two games with back and neck spasms. It was his first game
action since his preseason appearance on Sept. 23, when he made 27
saves in a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers at Grand Forks,
N.D.

"It would have been nice to steal one here," Fernandez said.
"The guys worked hard and we didn't get what we deserved. But they
played hard, too."

Minnesota had an 8-1 advantage in shots on net by the time Wes
Walz opened the scoring at 6:52 of the first period with an
unassisted goal. He beat Garon to the stick side from short range
after a turnover in the Kings' zone, but the Wild wasn't able to
get anything else past the rookie.

"The puck was bouncing in the slot all night, but I think he
was seeing the puck well," Minnesota forward Alexandre Daigle
said. "He was always on the rebounds and he didn't give up a lot
of rebounds. It seemed like either his defensemen were on them or
he was catching them. He's a good goalie."

The Kings tied it at 2:52 of the second period on a play that
would have been whistled for offsides prior to this season, when
passing the puck across two lines was a rule violation. Defenseman
Mike Weaver made a long pass from behind his blue line to Derek
Armstrong, who was a step behind the Minnesota line. Rookie George
Parros worked the puck to Belanger, who beat Fernandez to the stick
side from short range.

The officials had to go to the instant replay with 4:26 left in
the third period to determine if Walz had put Minnesota back in
front. Walz tried to jam a rebound past Garon, and the puck ended
up in the goalie's glove along the goal line. But the replay was
inconclusive.

"I caught the puck in my glove," Garon said. "A player came
and pushed my arm over the goal line and I just pulled it back
quickly, I had the puck the whole time. I didn't have much time to
think about it. I just pulled my arm back I was just happy it was
not a goal."

Game notes
Sunday was the 19th anniversary of Luc Robitaille's first
NHL game and the first of his 654 career goals, which are the most
by any left wing in league history. ... Before the game, the Kings
activated team captain Mattias Norstrom, who was sidelined since
Sept. 27 because of a strained left hamstring. Norstrom is the only
Kings player to appear in all 17 regular-season meetings with
Minnesota. ... D Denis Grebeskov, who turns 22 on Monday, was
assigned to Manchester of the AHL after sitting out the Kings'
first two games of the season as a healthy scratch. He was the 18th
overall pick in the June 2002 draft, and played in four games with
the Kings during the 2002-03 season.