LOS ANGELES (AP)—John Torchetti had something in his coaching debut that his predecessor was missing since the Olympic break—a healthy Alexander Frolov in the lineup.
Frolov returned from a shoulder injury and scored the tying and go-ahead goals in the third period to lift Los Angeles to a 6-4 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
“It’s all about the players every night,” Torchetti said. “We can stand there and tell them what to do, but they’re doing it. And all the credit goes to the players and my assistant coaches, Ray Bennett and Mark Hardy. They were fantastic. I kind of struggled on the bench at times because of the pace the game was going, so it’s going to take some time.”
Eric Belanger, Mark Parrish and Dustin Brown had power-play goals during a 6:45 span of the second period. Sean Avery also scored for the Kings, who outshot Nashville 39-9 over the final two periods and 48-19 overall.
“I was just proud of the whole team,” Torchetti said. “That’s a team win if you’ve ever seen one. Everyone competed, and we got some great goals. I thought we were very hungry taking the puck to the net.”
That was missing under Andy Murray, who was fired Tuesday after a 10-14-3 stretch in which the Kings plummeted from second place in the Western Conference to ninth with 12 games remaining. The dismissal came one day after the team’s listless 5-0 home loss to Colorado on Monday.
Torchetti was 10-13-4 as interim coach of the Florida Panthers at the end of the 2003-04 season. General manager Rick Dudley fired coach Mike Keenan and ran the team for 40 games before letting Torchetti finish up.
Dudley wanted to keep Torchetti in the job, but he was fired as GM and replaced by Keenan.
“I can’t really say a whole lot that you can print,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “Any time you give up three power-play goals in a game, your chances of winning aren’t very good. We had a lot of guys who were taxed by all the penalties these last two games.”
Playing before their 24th sellout crowd of the season, the Kings turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead with the three power-play goals. But Nashville responded with goals by Kariya and Greg Johnson less than 6 minutes apart to go back in front at 15:52 of the period.
Sillinger easily converted Scottie Upshall’s pass through the crease, then set up Kariya’s first goal just 32 seconds into the second period. Sillinger skated into the right circle and faked a slap shot with Belanger diving in front of him before slipping it to an unchecked Kariya in the slot. Kariya scored into a wide-open net, as goalie Mathieu Garon also went for Sillinger’s superb fake shot.
Sillinger, playing for his NHL-record 11th team, has three goals and 12 assists in 20 games since he was acquired from St. Louis on Jan. 29. He and Kariya were teammates during Kariya’s first two NHL seasons with Anaheim.
“They’re both intelligent players, obviously, and they have some chemistry,” Trotz said. “Yanic Perreault went down, so I put Sillinger there and he’s done a really good job. He can win faceoffs and make plays. A good example, obviously, was the goal Kariya scored, when he fakes the slap shot and threw it over to Paul. Everybody in the building was faked out by it.”
Torchetti is the fifth consecutive Kings coach to win his first game with the team, including Murray, Larry Robinson, Barry Melrose and Tom Webster. The franchise’s other 15 head coaches were a combined 4-8-3 in their debuts. … Murray’s 54.4 winning percentage with the Kings was the second-best in team, three points behind Webster. … Los Angeles lost Jeremy Roenick to an ankle injury and Derek Armstrong with a back ailment in the second period. … Kariya has 28 goals in 51 career games against the Kings.