Robitaille, Trent Klatt and defenseman Nathan Dempsey each had a goal and two assists to lift the Kings past the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 5-1 on Sunday. Robitaille, in his 18th NHL season, has 21 goals and 27 assists—and is one of the few players on the team to stay injury-free at age 38.
The eight-time All-Star is two points from Johnny Bucyk’s NHL record of 1,369 by a left wing. It was his second three-point game of the season and first since Nov. 1.
“When I met with Luc in the summer, he said he’d get 20 goals. Obviously, he’s kept his end of the bargain,” coach Andy Murray said. “He’s played solid and provided leadership for us.
“The other thing Luc is doing is working on the defensive side of the game. He’s managing his shifts better, he’s not staying on the ice too long and he’s making sure he has enough energy to play as well in the third period as he plays in the first.”
Los Angeles is tied with Nashville for seventh place in the West, but the Predators have won more games, the first tiebreaker. The Kings host the Blues on Tuesday night—St. Louis is ninth, one point in back of the Kings and Predators.
The Kings also hope for help down the road from—of all teams—the Ducks, who have two games left with St. Louis.
“We’ve been talking about `biggest game of the season’ all year, and Tuesday night’s obviously that, but you still need the points,” said Kings enforcer Sean Avery, who assisted on Ian Laperriere’s third-period goal. “So today was the biggest game of the season, then Tuesday’s the biggest game, then Thursday and then Saturday.”
Alexander Frolov had an empty-net goal for the Kings, who scored more than three goals for only the second time in 17 games. It also was the first time in 46 games they scored more than four goals.
“We knew how important this game was and we knew going in that we couldn’t afford to lose,” Robitaille said. “We just played all out. Every guy worked real hard and our goalie played awesome. That’s what it’s going to take for us to make the playoffs and do some damage once we get there.”
Cristobal Huet made 29 saves, losing his shutout bid when Sergei Fedorov scored his 25th goal with 10:09 to play. Huet has helped keep the Kings with a 6-4-3 record since No. 1 goalie Roman Cechmanek went down with a groin injury Feb. 18.
The Ducks, who came within one victory of winning the Stanley Cup last June, are about to become the fifth team since 1993 to miss the playoffs after going to the finals the previous year. The loss was Anaheim’s fourth straight, its longest skid since starting the season with five straight defeats.
The Kings scored on their first shot against playoff MVP Jean-Sebastien Giguere, whose got his career-worst 28th loss. Robitaille’s clearing pass off the boards was tipped in the neutral zone to Klatt, who finished off a two-on-one break with a wrist shot along the ice between Giguere’s pads. The goal was Klatt’s 17th, one more than he had last season with Vancouver.
“They played pretty well, but we’ve got to make a commitment to defense a little bit more,” Giguere said. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve got to be less intimidated by those guys. I mean, we let a guy like Sean Avery run around— and this guy shouldn’t make a difference, because he barely plays 10 minutes a game.”
Robitaille made it 2-0 in the second while Anaheim’s Petr Schastlivy was sitting out a four-minute high-sticking penalty. Robitaille scored during a flurry of shots.
Dempsey, playing his sixth game with the Kings following a trade from Chicago, scored his 10th goal on a one-timer from the top of the right circle.
“His experience is the key,” Robitaille said. “I mean, forget the goals, forget the assists. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about getting the puck in your zone and getting it out. He’s really smart with the puck, he’s composed, and he’s making the right little picks so that it’s hard to forecheck on his partner when he has the puck. Those are little things you really can’tteach.”
Murray earned his 178th regular-season victory with the club, tying Bob Pulford’s franchise record. Pulford reached that mark in three fewer games. … The Kings won the season series 4-1-1 and are 27-22-11 against Anaheim overall.The Ducks haven’t had the upper hand on the Kings since 1998-99 (5-1).