"We stuck to trying to give up as little as we could and we got a good performance from our goalie," O'Sullivan said Tuesday night. "And when you get all that, you get a good chance to win."
You sure do. O'Sullivan had a goal and an assist as the Kings won their third in a row, beating the Oilers 3-1. Dustin Brown and Lubomir Visnovsky also scored for Los Angeles, which started off a three-game road trip by winning for the sixth time in eight games following an eight-game losing streak.
"Tonight was a very strong game for us," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "We did a great job, I thought, of hanging on to the puck and really challenging an Oiler D that's playing with a lot of confidence right now. I thought we back-checked really well."
Dustin Penner had the lone goal for Edmonton, which had its four-game winning streak stopped. The Oilers (21-22-4) also failed to go over the .500 mark for the first time since their fourth game of the season.
"I'm not of the belief that it is something psychological, that it's some kind of burden we can't overcome," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "We can overcome it. It's not the way we wanted to go on the road, but we did a lot of things right on this homestand and we'll have to remember this lesson of why we lost the hockey game."
And that reason was their dreadful start, in which they were outshot 13-3 in the first period.
"It was kind of obvious early that we weren't playing up to the level that we have been playing the last few games," Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "We came out maybe a little bit flatter than we would have liked. If we had started the game the way we finished it, we would have had a lot more success."
The Kings started the scoring just over 5 minutes in as Anze Kopitar spotted O'Sullivan open at the side of the net and the Los Angeles center sent a shot stick-side past Mathieu Garon.
Garon faced 13 first-period shots, while Edmonton only managed to put three on Jason LaBarbera.
|Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Brown puts the puck into the top left corner of the goal over Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mathieu Garon during the second period in Edmonton on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jimmy Jeong)|
The Kings made it 2-0 just 4 minutes into the second period as Robert Nilsson's attempt to tip a puck out of his zone was intercepted by O'Sullivan, who fed Brown at the side of the Edmonton net for his 23rd goal.
Edmonton fans thought the Oilers pulled within one with 7 minutes remaining in the period on a wraparound attempt by Denis Grebeshkov, but the puck bounced off of LaBarbera, then the post before being swept away.
Los Angeles went up 3-0 in the third when Garon allowed a big rebound on a kick save following Kopitar's power-play point shot and Visnovsky was there to rifle the puck into the open net before Garon could get back.
The Oilers finally got on the board with just over 9 minutes remaining as Penner kicked a puck to his stick in the crease to end LaBarbera's shutout bid.
"Our start was unacceptable," Edmonton captain Ethan Moreau said. "We have to do a lot better than that to begin a game. It's a part of being a professional, being ready every night. We're not in a position where we can take any time off."
Notes: Los Angeles captain Rob Blake set a Kings franchise record for games played by a defenseman, appearing in his 781st contest. Mattias Norstrom held the previous mark. ... Both teams will be represented in the YoungStars event during All-Star weekend. Oiler center Sam Gagner and Kings defenseman Jack Johnson were both selected Tuesday to compete in a 3-on-3 event held during the skills competition the day before the All-Star game. ... Los Angeles forward Brian Willsie sat out with a sore lower back. Recently called up Teddy Purcell played in his place.