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Kings return home to take on Oilers

by Tal Pinchevsky /
OILERS (12-15-5) at KINGS (19-12-1)


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

Season series: This is the first of four meetings this season between these teams, who will play each other twice more in the next six weeks. The Kings and Oilers split their series last season, with both of Edmonton's wins coming via shootout.

Big story: After acquiring him from Boston, the Kings placed winger Marco Sturm on their active roster this week. In his first game since offseason knee surgery, Sturm registered one shot in the Kings' 5-0 win Tuesday night over the Avalanche. … After enjoying a hot streak to start December, the Oilers have dropped three of their last four games, including a 2-1 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Edmonton: In the opener to a three-game road trip, the Oilers fell behind 2-0 in San Jose before Dustin Penner's third-period goal bridged the gap. The eventual loss closed out a six-game homestand in which the Oil went 3-3.

"We had four turnovers on our 5-on-3, and that tells you that we're trying to do something that's not there," coach Tom Renney said following the loss in San Jose. "That sort of led to our demise. We got into a track meet in the second period (by) not managing the puck properly."

Kings: On Tuesday night, Los Angeles completed its five-game road trip in style with an impressive 5-0 dismantling of the Avalanche. In ending Colorado's six-game win streak, the Kings went 3-2 on the trip. Kings' captain Dustin Brown continued his hot play with a four-point night in Denver that included a two-goal third period.

"When you're playing those five games, like we have on the road, and come back and play the third period (like that), that's a big buy-in by everybody," coach Terry Murray said. "There was a real solid attitude about the team."

Who's hot:
With his four-point night in Denver, Brown has been on fire for the Kings, registering 12 points in his last six games. Not to be outdone, winger Anze Kopitar has 14 points in his last 11 games. … With his goal in San Jose, Dustin Penner now has 3 goals in his last six games. Ryan Whitney, who assisted on Penner's goal, is enjoying a modest three-game point streak and is first in the League among defensemen with 25 assists.

Injury report:
Gilbert Brule missed Tuesday's game with an illness while Jim Vandermeer is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Ales Hemsky (groin) and Shawn Horcoff (knee) remain on IR for the Oilers. … Matt Greene missed Tuesday's game in Colorado after sustaining an upper-body injury Saturday night in Nashville, a game that also saw fellow defenseman Willie Mitchell leave with a lower-body injury. Mitchell remains week-to-week while Scott Parse (hip surgery) is on IR.

Stat pack:
Rarely do they match up statistically, but with one more minor penalty, Zack Stortini will pass Hall-of-Famer Paul Coffey for 17th on the Oilers' all-time penalty-minutes list. … Don't expect much offense from Rob Scuderi. His goal against the Avs was his first regular-season marker since opening night of the 2008-09 season, when he was with the Penguins, a span of 184 games.

Puck drop: While both teams are known for their core of young, exciting scorers, they are polar opposites in the defensive zone. The Kings rank fourth in the League in goals allowed per game and the Oilers rank 29th, making goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin imperative to the team's success.

"He's the reason why we win," Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle said of Khabibulin following a 6-3 win last week over Columbus.

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