KINGS (29-21-12) at OILERS (18-35-10)
TV: FS-W, SNW
EDMONTON -- The Los Angeles Kings are accustomed to living life on the edge.
A team built for success in the NHL Playoffs, the Kings play the Edmonton Oilers (18-35-10) at Rexall Place on Tuesday fighting just to get into the post season.
It’s a similar scenario they were in last season before winning the Stanley Cup.
“For sure, it’s a dangerous way to live and play,” Kings center Jarret Stoll said. “It’s stressful for sure. People keep saying it and we don’t want to hear it to be honest, anymore, that we’ll just flip the switch. That’s easy to say, but very tough to do.”
Los Angeles (29-21-12) appeared to be falling out of the playoff picture in early February before winning eight consecutive games.
The win streak allowed them to temporarily regain a playoff spot before losing three straight going into their game against Edmonton.
“We’re trying to be the same way in the regular season as we are in playoffs, but it just hasn’t been working out,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “But there are a lot of games left and we can turn this season around with a lot of wins. If we win the majority our remaining games in the season that will turn this into a pretty good season, and it will also put us into a playoff spot. That’s what we’re looking to do, we just can’t rely on hoping to make the playoffs and then do well when we get there. We have to make it happen.”
The game against Edmonton is the last of a three-game road trip for Los Angeles. They lost 1-0 against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and 5-2 at the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday.
“We can make it a lot easier on ourselves if we don’t go through these stretches where we’re losing a lot of games,” Doughty said. “If we’re continually winning games, then you can finish higher in the standings and you don’t have to go into playoffs being the away team at the start of every series. We can make it lot easier on ourselves if we win more games during the season, so we need to know that and change it.”
The Kings lost their past game against the Oilers in Edmonton 3-2 in a shootout on Dec. 30. The win was the first NHL victory for Oilers coach Todd Nelson, who replaced Dallas Eakins.
Nelson has Edmonton playing a grittier style of hockey, which has severed them well against bigger teams in the league like the Kings.
“We’ve raised our battle level,” Nelson said. “Our hockey team is not as big as they are, so we have to compete really hard and try to play a fast game. We have to keep it simple, stay on the right side of the puck, just play a simple game plan and if there are breakdowns, we have to capitalize on our opportunities.”
Edmonton has lost three of their past four games and are also without defenseman Jeff Petry, who was traded to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
“There is a quarter of the season left, so it’s still a big chunk of the season. We have to improve on a lot of things and take pride in the end of the season here,” Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “We’re not the biggest team, but we still have big guys and we still can play physical. We need to keep playing that way.”
Goaltender Ben Scrivens will start for Edmonton; Jonathan Quick will start in goal for Los Angeles.
Here are projected lineups:
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown
Dwight King – Jeff Carter – Tyler Toffoli
Trevor Lewis – Jarret Stoll – Justin Williams
Kyle Clifford – Nick Shore – Jordan Nolan
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Robyn Regehr – Andrej Sekera
Brayden McNabb – Matt Greene
Scratched: Andy Andreoff, Jamie McBain
Suspended: Slava Voynov
Injured: Alec Martinez (concussion)
Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Teddy Purcell - Derek Roy – Nail Yakupov
Ryan Hamilton – Matt Hendricks – Matt Fraser
Luke Gazdic – Boyd Gordon - Rob Klinkhammer
Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz
Martin Marincin - Mark Fayne
Jordan Oesterle - Andrew Ference
Scratched: Keith Aulie,
Injured: Tyler Pitlick (lacerated spleen), Taylor Hall (leg), Nikita Nikitin (shoulder), Viktor Fasth (knee), Anton Lander (shoulder), Iiro Pakarinen (knee).
Status report: Oesterle will take Petry’s place in the Oilers lineup. Oesterle was recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League on Feb. 20 and will be playing his third NHL game. … Shore, who sat out Sunday against the Jets, will be back in the lineup in place of Andreoff on the Kings’ fourth line.
Who’s hot: Carter scored two goals in the loss to Winnipeg. … Eberle has three assists in his past two games. … Nugent-Hopkins has two assists in his past two games.