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LAst Night's Action: Kings Get Sloppy Win against 'Canes

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LA Kings defeat Carolina Hurricanes 4-3. With Head Coach Terry Murray deciding to save goalie Jonathan Quick for division foe Phoenix Coyotes Thursday night, a shaky Jonathan Bernier had a tough go of it for the first two periods having not played since Oct. 10, 2010 in Calgary in a 3-1 loss. Thankfully he loosened up in the third period and the offense bailed him out for the 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

“When you don’t play a lot, it’s hard to get a rhythm,” Bernier said.

Two cases on point: Eric Staal’s unassisted goal 17:46 in the first period to give Carolina the 2-1 lead. Staal just charged through and simply beat Bernier point blank. Nothing fancy - just point and shoot and there the puck ended up in the back of the net.

Second case: Jeff Skinner’s goal 14:39 in the second period to tie the game 3-3. Bernier could not glove the puck on Anton Babchuk’s 52-foot slapshot letting it fall out and bounce on the crease for Skinner’s easy put-back.

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But in the third period Bernier seemed to loosen up saving all 15 shots the Hurricanes threw at him doubling their effort from the first two periods.

“I felt way better in the third,” Bernier said. “I felt comfortable on the ice.”

Murray was complimentary of Bernier’s third period. “There was a lot of action around the net. They put a lot of pucks to the net in the third period. He had good focus, pucks coming from the blue line with traffic. He makes it look easy at times standing there with composure catching the puck not going down at any time.”

However Murray wasn’t having any of the rustiness excuses.

“Figure it out. You can never come back to me at the end of the game and say I felt a little rusty.”

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Coming out of the rust also was Anze Kopitar who had yet to score a goal this season after leading the team with 34 goals last season. He finally scored his first goal of the season 6:58 in the second period off the left faceoff circle on Dustin Brown’s pass to give the Kings the 3-2 lead.

“It’s one of those things the slow start,” Kopitar said. “I didn’t have any concern that I’m not able to score anymore. It took a little longer than last year, but I got the first one and hopefully I can keep it going now.”

Andrei Loktionov scored the winning goal and his first NHL goal 3:19 in the third period when from behind the net he shot the puck to the right of the crease which bounced off of Carolina goalie Justin Peter’s stick and into the net.

“That’s a pretty intelligent play,” Murray commented. “Loktionov was making plays all night long.”

Still of concern was the Kings going 0-for-4 on the power-play with 11 seconds on a two-man advantage. They balanced that by killing all three Hurricanes power-play opportunities allowing only six shots-on-goal during those six minutes.

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Bernier made 27 saves while Peters made 23 saves. Not a pretty game, but the Kings will take the two points.

Columbus Blue Jackets defeat Anaheim Ducks 3-1. Yet again the Ducks found themselves in a deficit on the road they couldn’t overcome. The Blue Jackets started the scoring 3:32 in the second period when Derek Mackenzie after blocking Sheldon Brookbanks’s pass on the blue line drove down to the Ducks’ zone untouched and beat goalie Jonas Hiller. Rick Nash added a goal at 4:43 off of a Ducks’ turnover in the neutral zone for the winning goal.

Teemu Selanne got the Ducks back within one early in the third period, but they couldn’t do much else. The Blue Jackets iced the game with another Nash goal into the empty net with 28 seconds left in the game.

The positive: The Ducks limited the penalties only having to go on the penalty-kill three times. The negative: When the Ducks were on the power-play, everyone stood around. Hence only the six shots-on-goal during their five power-play opportunities.

Hiller made 19 saves while Steve Mason made 31 saves for Columbus with the Ducks remaining winless in their four road contests.

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San Jose Earthquakes defeat Chivas USA 3-0. After a scoreless half, Chris Wondolowski scored a hat trick for the Earthquakes giving him 17 goals for the season setting a single-season San Jose Earthquakes record.

NOTABLE NOTES

Cody Ross. Here’s a question Game 3 loser Cole Hamels fielded after the game Tuesday afternoon: You were talking about Cody Ross and how hot he is right now being able to hit pitches that guys don't normally hit. How do you game plan for a guy who is hitting differently than he usually does?

Hamels: Hit him.

While Hamel was kidding, it is a valid question. Eventually he said, “You just have to battle, and unfortunately sometimes they'll get the best of you. But with the game of baseball the hitters aren't supposed to succeed as much as pitching so you wait for the time where he goes 0-for-4 in a game.”

Wait and hope. That’s the game plan for Cody Ross.

Mind you this is the same guy who was put on waivers by the Florida Marlins in August. The Giants gave up two prospects for him only to ensure he didn’t go to the San Diego Padres. This season he batted .269 with 14 home runs for both teams.

This is the same guy who in the span of one season hopscotched from the Dodgers to the Cincinnati Reds to the Marlins.

Now we’re talking about a guy who is batting .444 in the NLCS and overall this postseason is batting .348 with four homers and seven RBI. He’s been on base all seven games of the postseason.

So what did Phillies’ starter Joe Blanton do in Ross’ first at-bat in Game 4? That’s right, hit him.

Ross ended up going 1-for-3 with a run scored in the Giants’ 6-5 come-from-behind win against the Phillies taking a 3-1 series lead. Finally waking up for the Giants is Rookie of the Year candidate Buster Posey who went 4-for-5 with two RBI.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

UCLA Bruins (3-3, 1-2 Pac-10) at #1 Oregon Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-10). 6:00 pm ESPN, AM 570 KLAC.

LA Kings (8 pts., 4-1-0) at Phoenix Coyotes (3 pts., 1-2-1). 7:00 pm FSWest, AM 1150 KTLK.

Anaheim Ducks (5 pts., 2-4-1) at Philadelphia Flyers (5 pts., 2-2-1). 4:00 pm FS Prime Ticket, AM 830 KLAA.