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Sopel scores twice as Kings end five-game slide

Oct 31, 2006 - 6:16 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- You can take defenseman Brent Sopel out of New York, but you can't seem to take the "Big Apple" out of him.

Sopel scored twice and Chris Conroy collected two assists as the Los Angeles Kings snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-1 triumph over the New York Rangers in their only meeting of the season.

Acquired from the New York Islanders on March 8, Sopel missed the last two contests with a foot injury. The 29-year-old blue-liner bounced back for his fourth career multi-goal game and his first tallies since netting the clincher against the Islanders on October 10.

"I played them a lot when I was (with the Islanders)," Sopel said. "They're always a tough team to play against, and I've been fortunate to play well against them and break through for some goals."

Sopel scored his first goal at 5:06 of the first period by shooting rookie Anze Kopitar's feed from the right boards off Blair Betts' skate, which beat goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to the glove side.

"This is the way we have to play every night," Sopel said. "This is the best league in the world and if you don't work hard, you're not going to get the wins. Lately, we've been working hard and not getting the bounces. But tonight, we did."

The Kings took advantage of Rangers defenseman Marek Malik's hooking penalty to double the margin nearly six minutes later, when Sopel one-timed Conroy's cross-ice feed from the left faceoff circle between Lundqvist's pads.

"We got the breaks and the bounces went in tonight, and that's something we hadn't experienced this season," Conroy said. "I think it came down to the little things. We talked about winning draws (and) finishing checks."

Conroy collected his second assist of the game at 1:31 of the second session by sliding the puck toward the front of the net, where it was tipped in by Alexander Frolov for a 3-0 bulge.

"We wanted to have a great start tonight and we got that great start," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "Coming off a very tough road trip where we played five games in seven nights, we knew that our energy at the start of the game was probably going to be greater than it was at the end of the game, so the start tonight was very important to us."

Brendan Shanahan scored his 10th goal of the season for the Rangers with 2:25 left in the second with a wrister from the right faceoff circle. It was his 608th career tally, tying him with Dino Ciccarelli for 13th place all-time.

"We talked about the Kings being a better team than their record showed," Shanahan said. "They came out and had a great first period and we didn't start to play until the second period. They were able to build a significant lead. When that happens, it's pretty tough to recover and come back for the win."

Sean Avery added his second goal of the season with 48 seconds left in the second period and netminder Mathieu Garon made 28 saves for the Kings, who beat the Rangers at home for the first time since March 9, 2000.

Lundqvist stopped 29 shots for the Rangers, who failed to score on nine power-play chances, including five in the third period.

"We really tried tonight," Lundqvist said. "They're a very good team and they came out and really hard, played smart and made it real hard for us. We're very disappointed right now."

"It looked like we had no legs for some reason," Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr said. "They jumped on us in the first period and we never had a chance. We had a choice. Let them skate by us or take a penalty. And we took penalties."

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