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Kings fighting for fourth, Oilers for a playoff spot

by Brian Hunter /

OILERS (16-14-7) at KINGS (21-13-3)


Last 10: Edmonton 6-3-1; Los Angeles 6-3-1

Season series: Third and final meeting of the regular season. The teams have split a pair of games in Edmonton, with the Oilers winning 2-1 on Jan. 24 thanks to Sam Gagner's shootout goal, and the Kings responding for a 3-1 victory on Feb. 19 as Jeff Carter snapped a tie with 49.4 seconds left in regulation.

Big story: Edmonton will play seven of its final nine games at home, but first the Oilers have to survive the second half of a four-game road trip. Their five-game winning streak, in which they averaged five goals per game, came to an end when they were blanked Thursday in Vancouver.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Five straight wins temporarily lifted Edmonton into the eighth seed in the Western Conference standings, but the Oilers dropped back out after their 4-0 loss to the Canucks coupled with the Blues' shootout win over the Blackhawks on Thursday. They also have two fewer games left to play than St. Louis, so rebounding quickly is paramount. Devan Dubnyk, who has won four consecutive decisions and allowed just three goals in that span, figures to be back between the pipes Saturday after Nikolai Khabibulin got the start in Vancouver.

"We just had trouble maintaining our work ethic and battle level that we had prior to this," forward Jordan Eberle told the Edmonton Journal. "It's just a tough one. We needed to score and we couldn't do it."

Kings: There's a great battle going on for the No. 4 seed in the West, and Los Angeles picked up a key two points Thursday against one of the teams it's battling for the last position that includes home ice for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jonathan Bernier continued what has been his best NHL season yet by stopping all 23 shots he faced in a 3-0 victory over Minnesota, a team battling for first place in its division. Justin Williams and Jeff Carter got the Kings going by scoring in the first 3:07 of the game, and Williams tallied again early in the second period.

"It was really nice to get that win," said defenseman Robyn Regehr, who debuted with Los Angeles after being traded from Buffalo and picked up an assist. "The Western Conference standings are continuing to be tight. They've been this way all season long, so the more games that we can win right now, the less we have to worry down the road toward the end of the season."

Who's hot: The Oilers' attack was slowed down Thursday, but prior to that Taylor Hall had seven goals and eight assists during a six-game points streak. … Williams extended his goal-scoring streak for the Kings to five games, totaling six goals. Carter had his third in four games. His 21 for the season are third in the League. Bernier improved to 9-2-0 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

Injury report: Edmonton forward Eric Belanger (groin) is on injured reserve. … Los Angeles forward Dustin Penner (lower body) is on injured reserve.

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