Ladies and gentlemen, your Western Conference leaders … the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings, who haven't made the playoffs since 2002, are the best in the West -- at least for a day -- after Sean O'Donnell's goal with 4:33 left in regulation gave L.A. a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Tuesday night.
O'Donnell ended a goal-scoring drought of 157 games when he teed up a point shot that sailed through a slew of arms and legs before going past Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers to break a 2-2 tie.
"Sometimes the ugly goal is the nicest," O'Donnell said after the victory gave the Kings 47 points, two more than Pacific Division rival San Jose. The Kings are tied with Pittsburgh for second in the overall standings, one point behind Washington. All three teams won on Tuesday.
The Kings improved to 22-11-3, and O'Donnell said this was the type of game that shows how far the team has come.
"At the start of the year, we were winning games and Kopi (Anze Kopitar) was carrying us, (Ryan Smyth) was carrying us," the 38-year-old defenseman said after scoring for the first time since Dec. 22, 2007. "We were getting great efforts from a couple of guys. Now, it seems like we're learning how to win games. Tonight was a big game for us. We played last night in Vancouver and we had a tough loss (3-1). We came in and we knew that they were playing well and we did just enough to win. You might say we got fortunate, or you might say that we're learning how to win those games now. I think it's a real shot in the arm. We've been doing a good job in these kind of games this year.
"Moving into first in the West is a real shot in the arm. We are starting to really believe in ourselves."
The Oilers were also starting to believe in themselves after winning the last five games of a six-game trip. But the loss in their return home had coach Pat Quinn steaming.
"I haven't felt angry this year yet, but I am angry now about how we played," he said.
"How could you like the result? We were the team that was supposed to be rested and fresh. I don't know if there is any excuse for being dumb. We don't shoot the puck, we stay out too long, we make bad changes, we do things that beat ourselves. It's hard not to be upset."
Brad Richardson gave the Kings a 1-0 lead 5:29 into the game when he finished off a 2-on-1 break with Dustin Brown after a turnover by Denis Grebeshkov. Brown made it 2-0 at 3:44 of the second when he dove to whack a rebound into the net.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick stopped Dustin Penner on a breakaway just after the 12-minute mark of the second period, but Ryan Potulny won the faceoff back to Sheldon Souray, who blew a shot past Quick at 12:17 to get the Oilers on the board.
Souray set up Potulny for the tying goal 3:43 into the third period. But Quick, who made 27 saves for his 20th win, was perfect the rest of the way.
"They came back on us and thankfully he was able to keep us in it," defenseman Matt Greene said. "They were all over us in the third. It's huge for this team to get this win. We were playing back to back and they had been hot lately."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|Brad Richardson (4) ASST: Dustin Brown (19)|
1 - 0 LAK
|Dustin Brown (8) ASST: Brad Richardson (3), Michal Handzus (9)|
2 - 0 LAK
|Sheldon Souray (3) ASST: Ryan Potulny (4)|
2 - 1 LAK
|Ryan Potulny (6) ASST: Sheldon Souray (6), Tom Gilbert (5)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Sean O'Donnell (1) ASST: Alex Frolov (15), Justin Williams (16)|
3 - 2 LAK
|Jean-Francois Jacques Fighting (maj) against Raitis Ivanans|
|Raitis Ivanans Fighting (maj) against Jean-Francois Jacques|
|Raitis Ivanans Instigator against Jean-Francois Jacques|
|Raitis Ivanans Misconduct (10 min)|
|Jack Johnson Holding against Gilbert Brule|
|Matt Greene Holding against Andrew Cogliano|
|Shawn Horcoff Interference against Dustin Brown|