Kings look to start new streak against surging Oilers
Tuesday, 12.15.2009 / 7:30 PMKINGS (21-11-3) at OILERS (15-13-4)
Los Angeles 7-2-1; Edmonton 6-3-1
Second of four meetings this season. The Kings have already won once at Rexall Place, 3-1 on Nov. 25. Defenseman Matt Greene
, an ex-Oiler, scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:28 remaining before Alexander Frolov added an empty-netter. Wayne Simmonds also scored for L.A. and Ryan Potulny had the Edmonton goal. Jonathan Quick
stopped 22 shots for the victory.
Los Angeles began a four-game road trip Monday with the opportunity to move ahead of Washington for first overall in the League, but saw its four-game winning streak come to an end in Vancouver by a 3-1 final. Now the Kings continue their swing through Western Canada with their second game in as many nights, against an Edmonton squad that has won its last five.
For the second night in a row, Los Angeles will have the opportunity to take over the lead in the Western Conference – and perhaps the entire League, depending on how Washington and Pittsburgh fare in their games. The Canucks made sure the Kings didn't accomplish that feat Monday by scoring just 1:04 into the game and holding L.A. to just an Alexander Frolov goal late in the first period.
Could a six-game road trip have sparked the turnaround to Edmonton's season? The team was languishing after getting routed by Vancouver on its first stop, but since then victories over Detroit, Dallas, Florida, Tampa Bay and St. Louis have followed. The challenge now will be continuing that success on home ice, where the Oilers have won just two of their last six.
"We try to bring the same type of game plan to every game and same type of intensity," forward Sam Gagner
said. "I think we're just kind of in a bit of a groove there where we weren't really worried about what happened and just went out and played."
Frolov has scored in consecutive games for Los Angeles. … Edmonton forward Dustin Penner
has goals in three straight and is coming off a four-point effort against St. Louis. Forward Gilbert Brule
had two goals and an assist in that game. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has two goals and three assists over his last five games.
The Kings will be without forwards Wayne Simmonds, Ryan Smyth
, Brandon Segal and Andrei Lokitonov.
Oilers coach Pat Quinn indicated defenseman Denis Grebeshkov could return Tuesday after a 13-game absence due to a partially torn medial collateral ligament.
"He might have been ready in St. Louis to give it a try," Quinn said. "(Sheldon) Souray was maybe not going to play that night and then decided he was ready to play, so we held Denis for another day. He has two more practices in so we think he's ready and we want to get him in (against the Kings)."
That would be welcome news for a squad that has been hit hard by injuries. Ales Hemsky
is out for the season after shoulder surgery and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin
, defenseman Taylor Chorney
and forwards Marc Pouliot, Mike Comrie and Fernando Pisani are all on injured reserve. Souray missed practice Monday due to a back problem and forward Gilbert Brule
was under the weather and told to stay home.
Penner had played just 101 regular-season games for Anaheim when Edmonton signed him to a somewhat controversial offer sheet three seasons ago that the Ducks refused to match. At age 27, we appear to be seeing his breakout season. Penner has 18 goals and 36 points to lead the Oilers in scoring. His career high for points is 47, set in his first season with his new team.
"You cannot play against good hockey clubs without intensity," Kings coach Terry Murray warned after Monday's defeat. It won't take long to find out whether his players got the message, as they face another good hockey club in the Oilers.