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EDMONTON -- Four years after he left the Oilers, Ryan Smyth is still a favorite son of Edmonton. How beloved does Smyth remain? Oilers fans cheered him during the national anthems, and the official scorer credited him with two goals he didn't score.
After the game, a 3-1 victory for the Kings over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night at Rexall Place, Smyth was named the game's first star. Smyth took a quick on-ice spin and raised his stick to salute the remaining fans, who gave him a hearty cheer.
It was a great moment for Oilers fans and Smyth, who still holds a strong affinity for the city and its fans. The fact that Smyth didn't actually score either goal? Details, details.
Drew Doughty could only laugh after the game, as Smyth readily admitted that he didn't actually deflect either of Doughty's power-play slap shots, shots that helped turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead and helped the Kings break out of a massive power-play funk.
``He told me he didn't tip either, but I guess they gave them both to him,'' Doughty said with a grin.'' I don't know. I guess we'll see what happens here. Whether I scored or not, it doesn't really matter. We won the game and got two goals on the power play, which is huge for us.''
Smyth didn't try to take credit. Asked if he had deflected the puck on Doughty's second shot, Smyth said, with a laugh, ``No. I didn't even get the first one,'' Smyth said. ``I just try to cause them, that's all.''
The league office is likely to take another look at the goals Thursday morning and determine, once and for all, who should get credit, but neither Doughty nor Smyth seemed to care too much. Both were focused on the two points the Kings picked up.
One night after a frustrating 1-0 shootout loss to Minnesota, the Kings had a rough first period against the Oilers -- the Kings had to kill three penalties -- but improved their play in the second period and got a solid game from Jonathan Quick, who made 32 saves.
The Kings improved to 4-0-1 in their last five games and have claimed three out of a possible four points at the start of a highly-important stretch of 10 straight road games.
``I thought we had good movement,'' defenseman Jack Johnson said. ``Guys were shooting when they could, and I thought that was the biggest thing. I thought we moved well, and moved the puck well. Everyone was in sync.''
Johnson added a third-period goal to give him three points for the night and give the Kings a two-goal cushion, and Johnson was also a big part of the Kings' power-play burst, perhaps fueled by a personnel change made by coach Terry Murray.
Entering the game, the Kings had been mired in a 1-for-28 power-play slump, and Murray decided to scrap the idea of spreading out his best power-play performers over two units. Instead, he put his two best power-play ``quarterbacks,'' Doughty and Johnson, together on the first unit, a move endorsed by both players.
The Kings didn't score on their first power play, early in the second period -- and, in fact, the Oilers took a 1-0 shortly thereafter -- but the Kings tied the game on their next power play and took the lead later in the second period with another power-play goal.
``He and I really enjoy playing with each other,'' Johnson said of himself and Doughty. ``We're just kind of reading and reacting, and we have fun doing it. So whatever the coaches decide is best, but I know Drew and I have a lot of fun playing with each other.''
``Right, and even if we don't score, if we're moving well and creating chances, we gain more and more confidence and it carries over, not only on the power play but 5-on-5 for us, as well.''
Both goals came after Johnson moved the puck crisply on the blue line to Doughty, allowing Doughty to rip point shots that were deflected (or not) by Smyth in front.
The second goal was initially credited to Doughty, but changed to Smyth during the second intermission. However the official scoring turns out, it was a memorable night for Smyth, who was surrounded by Edmonton-area media after the game.
A first-round pick of the Oilers in 1994, Smyth made his NHL debut with Edmonton a year later and was a consistent performer until a 2007 trade to the New York Islanders.
Smyth wasn't always beloved in Edmonton -- he said he was booed in his first couple games back in Edmonton, after the trade -- but is clearly revered now. Smyth is also playing well, as he now leads the Kings with 21 goals in 52 games.
``It's a great rink to play in,'' Smyth said. ``Great fans. It's a great atmosphere. People know their hockey here, and it's always nice to come to Canada.''
The three goals was plenty of support for Quick, who now has won four consecutive decisions and has allowed two or fewer goals in five of his last six starts.
``Quick was good,'' Murray said. ``Edmonton moved the puck. They come at you with a lot of speed. There's a lot of activity in the offensive zone, and they've got some real skilled players who can create. They found some players off the back door and we got breaks a couple times, just with us getting a stick on a puck. Then, when we needed him, Quick was there to make a couple very big stops for us.''
Quick's biggest work came early, as the Oilers had three first-period power plays and, at one point, were outshooting the Kings 11-1. The Oilers' only goal came on a backdoor tip-in that Quick had no chance to stop. Otherwise, he was solid.
The Kings were able to enjoy victory one night after they were frustrated by Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom in a 1-0 shootout loss, although it took a while for the Kings to get on the board Wednesday, largely because of the penalty-kill time.
The Kings completed their fourth consecutive period without a goal, as they were outshot 12-5 in the first period. The Kings also took three penalties but killed them. After Johnson's shot at the 2:40 mark, the Kings didn't record another shot on goal until the 14:53 mark.
``Killing off three penalty kills in the first period, that was very demanding, after getting a game in last night and traveling,'' Murray said. ``Back-to-back after the All-Star break, it's a hard, demanding game to play here tonight for us, but guys dug in. We had good pressure on the puck. We were really active and didn't give them too many opportunities to get set up. Whenever we needed him, Quick was there.''
After the Kings failed to score on a power play early in the second period, the Oilers took a 1-0 lead at the 3:21 mark. With the puck near the boards, Linus Omark centered it to Sam Gagner. Gagner spun around Trevor Lewis then pushed the puck past Doughty to the goal line. Magnus Paajarvi was there to tap it past Quick.
The Kings went on the power play at the 3:40 mark, and scored five seconds after the ensuing faceoff. Michal Handzus won the faceoff back to Johnson, who pushed the puck over to Doughty. Doughty's slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle got deflected by Smyth, in front of the net, past Nikolai Khabibulin as the Kings tied the game 1-1 at the 3:45 mark.
The Kings added a second power-play goal at the 9:47 mark of the second period. Johnson passed left to Doughty, who ripped a one-time slap shot from the top of the faceoff circle. Smyth, skating in front of the net, was credited with a deflection that beat Khabibulin to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
The Kings took a two-goal lead with 5:08 remaining in the third period. Dustin Brown held the puck low, near the goal line, then sent it to Johnson at the blue line. Johnson moved to the high slot, then ripped a shot through traffic to beat Khabibulin and give the Kings a 3-1 lead.
``It's obviously nice to contribute on the power play,'' Smyth said. ``The power play has been lacking as of late, and that can win you or lose you hockey games. Tonight, we capitalized on two, and it was a big win for us overall.
``Obviously Jack and Doughty can shoot the puck. When you're slacking a little bit in the power-play area, you've got to get back to basics, and that's getting the puck to the net.''
After the game, Doughty was able to laugh about not getting credit for two goals that most everyone generally acknowledged that he scored.
Speaking of Smyth, Doughty said, `` I think we all know that he's `Captain Canada,' so they love him here in Edmonton.''