LOS ANGELES (AP)—Luc Robitaille has made it crystal clear that he never wants to be benched again.
Robitaille scored the tying goal on a power play late in the second period to help the Los Angeles Kings tie Minnesota 2-2 on Monday night, extending the Wild’s road winless streak to 11 games.
He has scored in each of his last three games, and has a point in all five since coach Andy Murray decided to bench the eight-time All-Star for the previous two games.
“It has nothing to do with that. I was pretty fired up before that,” Robitaille said. “I was disappointed. But as a person, you’ve got to respond— and I wasn’t going to respond in a negative way. Besides, I might have scored in those two games, too, if I played. This is the biggest time of the year for us and this is the time we all have to pick up our game. I’ve been feeling really good, and I’ve been ready.”
Robitaille, an 18-year veteran in his third stint with the Kings, got the equalizer with 2:04 left in the second period with his 12th goal—one more than he had all last season with Detroit.
Minnesota defenseman Willie Mitchell was off for tripping Esa Pirnes when Robitaille got the puck in the slot from Derek Armstrong and beat Dwayne Roloson to the stick side with a one-timer from 30 feet for his 643rd career goal.
“He was great in the last 40 minutes,” Murray said. “He scored a big goal—and he might have led us in hits. That’s normally not part of his repertoire, but tonight he was very physical and very determined on the puck.”
“We needed a good effort, and I think we got one,” coach Jacques Lemaire said. “It’s too bad we didn’t get the third goal, because we had some chances and they started to come back and pressure us in our end. But I’m very happy with the effort the guys put out.”
Minnesota, the only team in the league without a win or loss in overtime (0-0-15), tied the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings for the most consecutive overtime games in one season that ended in a tie.
Marian Gaborik, who has eight goals in 13 career games against the Kings, missed his third straight game because of a hip flexor and defenseman Andrei Zyuzin was sidelined by a groin injury. Both are expected to be back in the lineup Thursday night against Montreal, but the same can’t be said for Wes Walz (separated shoulder) and defenseman Brad Bombadir (strained left hip).
Minnesota, outscored 9-0 in its previous seven periods, capitalized on its first power play of the night after going just 5-for-62 with the man advantage over the previous 17 games. Park beat Roman Cechmanek over the right shoulder with a one-timer from a sharp angle at 9:36 of the first after Brunette set him up in the right circle with a pass from behind the net.
Mattias Norstrom, the only Kings player who will be in Minnesota to participate in next month’s All-Star game, was sent off for slashing less than a minute before Dowd made it 2-0. Brunette carried the puck out of the right corner unchecked and fed it into the slot, where Dowd one-timed it past Cechmanek’s glove from 15 feet away.
“We’re not happy with the way we played in the first period—but it was to be expected that they would have come out hard when they’re that down and that desperate,” Robitaille said.
“You’ve got to remember, that’s a team that had a great year last year. They played two bad games on this trip and they had about three meetings the last two days. So they came out totally desperate. The first seven or eight minutes they really took it to us.”
The Kings had a two-man advantage for almost 1 1/2 minutes of the first period, after Jason Marshall was penalized for playing with a broken stick and Mitchell got four minutes for cutting rookie Scott Barney with a high stick. But Roloson, who had a season-high 44 saves against the Kings in a 2-2 at Minnesota in their only other meeting this season, stopped all three shots during theensuing power play.
Robitaille needs 17 points to tie Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk’s NHL record for left wings. Robitaille already has more goals than any player at that position. … With Walz, Zyuzin and Bombadir missing from the penalty-killing unit, Minnesota has allowed six power-play goals in its last four games. … The Wild have never scored more than two power-play goals in a game since beginning play in 2000-01. … The Kings, who scored four goals in each of their previous three games, have not scored four or more in fourstraight games since Oct. 9-15, 2000.