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GAME: Los Angeles Kings (22-13-1) at Edmonton Oilers (20-11-4).

TIME: Friday, 9 p.m. EST.

Coming into the season, the Los Angeles Kings decided to go with Jason LaBarbera and Mathieu Garon - and their combined 48 games of experience - in goal.

In the span one of one week, Garon seems to have entrenched himself as the starter.

Garon will have a tough task when the Kings meet the Edmonton Oilers, who are coming off one of their best offensive outings of the season.

The Kings are looking for their season-high fifth straight win to keep pace with the Dallas Stars in the Pacific Division.

Garon recorded 16 wins over parts of four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens before being picked up in a June 2004 trade. He has started all four games during the current winning streak, compiling a 2.17 goals-against average while stopping 116 of 125 shots faced.

Garon made 27 saves and Los Angeles rallied from a two-goal deficit in the first period in a 5-2 win Wednesday over the Calgary Flames.

"He's getting better and better," said Mike Cammalleri, who scored twice for the Kings. "The guys in this room have a strong belief in both of our goaltenders but especially Matty of late, he's been playing great."

Garon has lost both of his career starts against Edmonton, giving up seven goals on just 36 shots faced.

Meanwhile, the Oilers are coming off a 7-6 win Wednesday over the Canucks that tied them with Vancouver atop the Northwest Division. The seven goals matched the Oilers' best offensive output of the season set in a 7-2 win Nov. 4 over the St. Louis Blues.

The teams combined for 10 goals over the first two periods before Ryan Smyth, named earlier this week to the Canadian Olympic team, scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period.

"A wild, wild game in the wild, wild west," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "It was last goal wins tonight."

Smyth, the Oilers' leading goal-scorer this season, is on pace for career-bests of 42 goals and 75 points.

Smyth has led the Edmonton in scoring each of the last two seasons. He has 12 goals, including four game-winners, in 33 career games against the Kings.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 22): Kings - 45 points, 1st place (tied), Pacific Division. Oilers - 44 points, 1st place (tied), Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Pavol Demitra, 18 goals, 26 assists and 44 points; Sean Avery, 127 PIM. Oilers - Smyth, 15 goals; Ales Hemsky, 25 assists and 33 points; Ethan Moreau, 51 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 22): Kings - Power play: 15.1 percent (32 for 212), tied for 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.6 percent (185 for 224), 15th. Oilers - Power play: 18.3 percent (39 for 213), 14th. Penalty killing: 81.3 percent (174 for 214), 20th.

GOALTENDERS: Kings - Garon (14-7-0, 0 SO, 2.65 GAA); LaBarbera (8-6-1, 0, 2.90). Oilers - Jussi Markkanen (12-9-3, 0, 3.08); Ty Conklin (3-1-1, 0, 3.32).

SEASON SERIES: Kings, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 11; Kings, 3-1. At Los Angeles, LaBarbera made 23 saves and the Kings got goals from three players. Marc-Andre Bergeron had the Edmonton goal.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 10-7-1 on the road; Oilers - 8-4-2 at home.

Associated Press
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