EDMONTON (CP) - In an effort to get the Edmonton Oilers back on track, head coach Craig MacTavish put the trio of Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff back together against the Los Angeles Kings.
The move paid off big time.
Smyth had two goals and two assists and Hemsky a goal and three assists as the Oilers snapped a two game losing skid with a 4-3 victory over the Kings. Horcoff chipped in with a goal and two assists.
"They were a handful all night," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "We needed a line to step up and they certainly did that for us. We had to make a change and this one made the most
sense. They've been hit and miss at times but hopefully they can keep it up together from here."
Smyth was glad the reunion worked out.
"We've had some chemistry the last couple of years and (MacTavish) put us back together," he said. "He wanted us to lead by example and we did that tonight."
In a strong outing, backup Jussi Markkanen captured the win for the Oilers, stopping 32 shots and making a rare start in the Edmonton net.
Sean Burke made 27 saves, taking the loss for the Kings.
MacTavish was impressed by Markkanen's performance.
"I've been saying for the last couple days that the team had to step up and have a game for Jussi," he said. "It was just the opposite. Jussi had a game for us."
Markkanen says he was comfortable in net, except for the second period when the Kings shelled him with 16 shots.
"All I wanted was to make it to the locker room after that. I was pretty tired," he said. "But overall I felt pretty good out there. I've been feeling good the last couple weeks. I was pretty confident going in."
Edmonton improves to 24-22-4, while the Kings (17-29-6) have now lost seven of their last eight contests, slipping to last place in the Western Conference.
Michael Cammalleri, Patrick O'Sullivan and Brian Willsie had the goals for the Kings.
Los Angeles head coach Mike Crawford felt his team let this game get away in the third period.
"In the third we let them take the game to us and it looked like we were only hoping to win," he said. "We weren't prepared to give the commitment that we needed to have. If you want to win in this league you have to give much more effort than we did in the third.
"It's disappointing because we did have it in the second. We had the momentum and the lead and then it almost seemed like we were saying let's see if our goalie can win it. You're not going to win many games with that type of attitude."
The Oilers got to Burke just 2:48 into the first period as Horcoff passed the puck back to a trailing Smyth, who picked the corner for his 24th of the season.
Los Angeles was able to tie it before heading to the dressing rooms as Cammalleri's point shot with just 28 seconds left eluded a screened Markkanen, making it 1-1 after the first.
It didn't take the Oilers long to reclaim the advantage as their top line combined for a nice goal just 49 seconds into the middle period. Smyth made a no-look pass from behind the net to Horcoff, who tipped it to a waiting Hemsky to go up 2-1.
Los Angeles was able to knot the match 11 minutes in on the power play as Lubomir Visnovsky's initial shot hit a post, was kept out by defenceman Matt Greene, then picked up by O'Sullivan, who lifted it up to even the game at 2-2.
The Kings took the lead a couple of minutes later when Greene coughed up the puck to Willsie at the Kings' blue-line. The Kings came in on a 3-on-1 with Willsie electing to shoot it himself,
picking the corner, glove-side on Markkanen.
The Oilers were able to get off to another good start in the third, tying the game 1:07 in as Smyth took a shot which caught Burke up high and the big rebound went to Horcoff, who slid the puck in to make it 3-3.
Edmonton regained its lead for good just under eight minutes in the third when Steve Staios' point shot hit Burke and then caromed off a charging Smyth and into the Kings' net.
The Kings wrap up their three game road trip in Calgary on Tuesday. Edmonton concludes a five game home stand on Wednesday when they welcome the Columbus Blue Jackets.
NOTES: Staios made his return to the Edmonton lineup after missing several games with a knee injury ... Sean Burke made his third start in net for the Kings after being picked up on re-entry waivers earlier in the month. He captured his first win on Friday in Vancouver after leaving due to dehydration early in the third in his first start with the Kings on Jan. 20.