The Kings’ playoff hopes took a major blow Tuesday night in their 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
A mere five days after defeating the Oilers 8-2 at STAPLES Center, the Kings struggled to get much going against what looked to be a completely different Edmonton club. Or, for that matter, a roster that was determined to earn back a little respect – and catch the attention of the entire league.
For the Kings, it was their first regulation loss at Edmonton’s Rexall Place since February 28, 2008.
Neither team scored in the opening frame, but it was apparent that the Oilers were playing a much tighter, more physical, confident game. While the Kings couldn’t find sustained pressure in Edmonton’s zone, defensive breakdowns in their own zone cost them dearly.
Matt Fraser gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the second when he buried a rebound after Edmonton won an offensive zone faceoff. Fraser was left all alone in front of Martin Jones’ net, able to handle the rebound with ease.
Jake Muzzin responded just over three minutes later during the Kings’ first power play of the evening. Muzzin played a carom off the backboards from an Anze Kopitar shot, beating an unsuspecting Richard Bachman.
Benoit Pouliot gave Edmonton a 2-1 lead midway through the second when he forced a turnover atop the Oilers’ zone and walked in alone on a breakaway, beating Martin Jones high to the blocker side.
Edmonton upped their lead to two goals five minutes into the third period when Tyler Pitlick hopped on a loose puck in the slot, beating Martin Jones with a shot high to the glove side.
In desperation mode, and on their third and final power play of the evening, Drew Doughty struck with a slap shot from the neutral zone to pull the Kings to within a goal with just over 10 minutes to play in regulation.
The Kings scraped away for the game-tying goal, but they would be unable to beat Richard Bachman again. Matt Fraser buried an empty-netter with 1.6 seconds remaining to secure a 4-2 win for the Oilers.
With 93 points, the Kings must beat the Calgary Flames in regulation time Thursday night to stay alive in the postseason push. They will also have to beat the San Jose Sharks Saturday, with a little help needed from an outside game.
Drew Doughty (1G, 1A) led all Kings players in points scored (2), Alec Martinez in shots taken (4), Dustin Brown in hits delivered (7), four different players in shots blocked (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (28:44). Martin Jones made 19 saves in the loss.
With the loss, the Kings’ record falls to 39-26-15; their mark on the road away from STAPLES Center drops to 15-17-8. The Kings will wrap up their three-game road trip Thursday night against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The puck is slated to drop just after 6:00PM PT.