Oilers get another chance to play spoiler vs. Kings
Friday, 03.30.2012 / 7:16 AMKINGS (38-27-12) at OILERS (31-37-9)
TV: FS-W (HD), SNET-W (HD)
Los Angeles 7-3-0; Edmonton 5-2-3
This is the third of four meetings, with the final to come on April 2. Edmonton won both previous meetings; Taylor Hall scored in overtime in the most recent encounter, on Jan. 15, to give the Oilers a 2-1 win.
Los Angeles will try to maintain, if not improve upon, its standing in the hyper-competitive Pacific Division on Friday in Edmonton. The Kings began Thursday second in the Pacific and seventh overall, but with the Coyotes hosting the Sharks at night, the winner was set to pass them in the standings. They head to Edmonton for the third game of a four-game northwestern trip to face the Oilers, a team already eliminated from the postseason but one that is 5-1-2 over its last eight.
In early March, Los Angeles finally found its offensive touch and surged in the standings. Though they have cooled of late, the Kings remain right in the hunt. With just six goals over their last four games, the Kings have struggled to a 1-2-1 mark. Following a 1-0 loss to Vancouver on Monday, the Kings rebounded on Wednesday with a 3-0 win over the Flames. After suffering yet another 1-0 loss to the Canucks, goalie Jonathan Quick
roared back with a 19-save gem against a Calgary team desperate for points. Much of that credit goes to the guys in front of Quick, who held the Flames to just four shots for the entire third period.
"You always expect a little more than four shots," Quick said. "It's a credit to the way the guys played in front of me. They were solid all night long as far as defensively goes."
Despite all of the teams jockeying for the final playoff spots, it's actually Edmonton -- a team with nothing to play for this season -- which has shown the greatest sense of urgency down the stretch. The Oilers have spent much of March dealing blows to various playoff hopes, including those of Calgary, Nashville and Florida. Heading into Wednesday’s game at home against Dallas, Edmonton had taken points from four straight games. But the Oilers could never find their groove against the Stars, conceding a goal in each period before Ales Hemsky finally scored midway through the third. The Oilers, and goalie Devan Dubnyk, wound up losing, 3-1.
"It seemed like the game was there for the taking all night for us, but we just couldn't get into the game," Eberle said. "Teams should be scared to come into our building and play us with the speed and puck movement we have."
Who's Hot: Anze Kopitar
, whose offensive outburst in early March spurred the Kings, has sputtered of late. He snapped a three-game pointless streak Wednesday with 2 assists, and he has 6 goals and 12 assist over 20 career games against the Oilers.
For Los Angeles, only Simon Gagne
is sidelined. Gagne has a concussion and is out indefinitely. … Two Oilers played through injuries on Wednesday: Shawn Horcoff (sore back) and Lennart Petrell (strained groin) both took full shifts against the Stars. Theo Peckham missed the game with a concussion. Taylor Hall (shoulder surgery) will miss the remainder of the season.
Judging by his career marks against the Oilers, Quick shows no signs of slowing down in Rexall Place. The Kings goalie is 5-1-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He'll face a stiff test in Edmonton's power play, which ranks second League-wide with a 21 percent conversion rate.
After Wednesday's game, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said his team now controls its own destiny.
"It's so tight," Sutter said. "What's the difference between six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11? One inch. That's the way it is.
"It's in your own hands. That's the way we want it."