LOS ANGELES – Speed and youth vs. methodical defense?
The Los Angeles Kings threw that storyline out the window when the Edmonton Oilers came to their barn Saturday afternoon. Los Angeles won a special-teams contest with two power-play goals in a 4-1 win at Staples Center.
Slava Voynov scored his first goal since March 5 and Jeff Carter helped L.A. go 2-for-5 on the man-advantage. The Kings jumped ahead of the San Jose Sharks and moved into fourth in the Western Conference playoff race.
"They have a lot of skill," Anze Kopitar said of Edmonton. "Every time you get into a power-play/penalty killing situation against them, it's pretty hard to defend as you saw it out there. I thought they were moving the puck pretty good, but at the same time our penalty kill was pretty good. [Jonathan Quick] was good. We gave up one, but we won that battle."
L.A. put the new defense combination of Drew Doughty and Robyn Regehr out exclusively against Edmonton's kid line of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, and the trio was kept scoreless. Kings coach Darryl Sutter previously said he wouldn't break up his defensive pairings but he's gone with Doughty-Regehr since the last half of Regehr's debut Thursday.
"It's easier at home – faceoffs, things like that," Sutter said. "You get six seconds before the referee puts his arm out. I'm sure we'll have a little different challenge tomorrow [at the Anaheim Ducks]."
Edmonton's third-ranked power play got four chances and converted on a strike from Magnus Paajarvi in the second period. It finished 1-for-4 and managed only one shot during Doughty's hooking penalty halfway through the third.
The Oilers remain a bubble team at ninth, and their road trip now goes to Anaheim on Monday. Edmonton has one goal in two games after it scored 25 goals in its previous six.
"If anything, it's says a lot for playoffs and how tough it is," Paajarvi said. "To get there we got to get wins now. If we lose to Anaheim, it's not going to look good. It's so tight. Everybody's going to win, and there's very few teams that drop a lot of games, so we really have to step up."
Voynov's slap shot from the point stayed on the ice the whole way and found the left side of the goal at 8:22 to give the Kings a 3-1 lead in a second in which L.A. outshot Edmonton, 17-5. Jeff Petry was in the penalty box for holding.
That's effectively game over for Los Angeles opponents. The Kings are now 101-1-11 in their past 113 games when leading after two periods.
"They play hard at both ends," Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger said. "I think in front of both nets they are the best in the League. That's why they are the defending Stanley Cup champs. I think it's really a measuring stick that we're trying to compete even harder against teams like this. There were phases where we had a semblance of the game going that we wanted to see, but we couldn't sustain it. They sustained what they do great through 60 minutes."
The first 30 minutes saw a combined seven power plays. Carter was credited with his 22nd goal when Dustin Brown's pass hit Carter's leg and bounced just under the crossbar at 15:35 of the second on Eberle's hooking penalty.
For the second straight game, Los Angeles struck in the opening two minutes. Edmonton left Mike Richards open at the edge of the left circle to one-time Carter's pass on the L.A.'s first shot on goal at 1:38.
"I thought we were pretty good in the first," Carter said. "They got that one line that will make a few plays here and there, but I thought we did a great job.
"We started to skate. We're a fast team, too. The last couple of games that we played them, we didn't have our speed. We didn't work pucks low and tonight we did all that. When you're doing that … they're not going anywhere."
Jerred Smithson made his Edmonton debut and centered a line with Mike Brown and Lennart Petrell. He won seven of nine faceoffs in nearly 10 minutes of ice time, but his penalty killing wasn't enough.
"Discipline is a huge factor," Sam Gagner said. "L.A. is good team. They are a a hard team to beat when you are undisciplined and taking penalties. For us, it's about finding ways to raise our level. These are important games."
Quick, who made 23 saves, improved to 9-1-4 lifetime against the Oilers. His next victory will tie him with Kelly Hrudey for No.2 on the club's all-time victory list. The Kings are 12-1-6 in their last 19 meetings with the Oilers.
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