GAME: Los Angeles Kings (28-25-16-7) at Edmonton Oilers (33-27-12-5).
TIME: Friday, 8 p.m. EST.
The Edmonton Oilers are playing their way into a playoff spot. The Los
Angeles Kings are doing just the opposite.
Two of the four teams battling for the final two postseason berths in the
Western Conference meet when the Oilers host the fading Kings.
In a race that likely will go down to the final game of the regular season,
Edmonton, Nashville, St. Louis and Los Angeles are vying for the final two
playoffs spots in the West. The Oilers didn't seem to have much of a chance at
the postseason just two weeks ago, but a 5-0-0-1 run has moved them into the
thick of the crowded race.
The Kings opened a four-game trip Wednesday with a 1-0 loss to Vancouver,
their season-high fifth straight defeat. Despite its struggles, Los Angeles
would pull within two points of the Oilers with a victory Friday.
Though the Oilers' season-best five-game win streak came to an end, they did
pick up a point with a 4-3 overtime loss to visiting Dallas on Wednesday.
The defeat was particularly frustrating for Edmonton - 8-0-2-4 in its last
14 games - because Dallas scored the tying goal with 54 seconds left in
"I wouldn't say it's demoralizing, but to give away points like that isn't
something we want to be doing this late in the season," defenseman Eric Brewer
said. "You try and sit on the fact that we got a point and we're making
progress still. You just try to deal with that because if we worry too much
about the negatives, we're not going to get anything done next week."
Center Mike York, limited to 56 games this season because of a finger
injury, was scratched Wednesday after the finger swelled following back-to-back
games against San Jose and Los Angeles. He is expected to play Friday.
Oilers defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron has three goals and three assists
during a five-game point streak.
A matchup with struggling Vancouver didn't help the Kings, as they
registered only 15 shots in a 1-0 loss Wednesday.
"We have to win every game now," Kings left wing Luc Robitaille said.
"Ties don't cut it. We just have to win."
The Oilers and Kings both have difficult remaining schedules.
After hosting Phoenix on Sunday, Edmonton closes the regular season with
road games against St. Louis, Dallas and Vancouver. Each of Los Angeles' final
six games are against teams currently holding a playoff spot.
STANDINGS (through March 24): Kings - 79 points, 3rd place, 15 PB, Pacific
Division. Oilers - 83 points, 4th place, 11 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Alexander Frolov, 24 goals; Robitaille and Jozef
Stumpel, 29 assists; Robitaille, 51 points; Sean Avery, 240 PIM. Oilers - Ryan
Smyth, 21 goals, 35 assists and 56 points; Georges Laraque, 97 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 24): Kings - Power play: 14.3 percent (48 for
335), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.1 percent (258 for 318), 27th. Oilers -
Power play: 12.5 percent (39 for 311), 29th. Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (268
for 332), 28th.
GOALTENDERS: Kings - Cristobal Huet (10-14-10, 3 SO, 2.40 GAA); Roman
Cechmanek (18-17-6, 5, 2.49). Oilers - Ty Conklin (15-13-4, 1, 2.43); Jussi
Markkanen (9-13-3, 2, 2.44).
SEASON SERIES: Kings, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Monday; Oilers, 2-1. At Los Angeles, Smyth scored on a
deflection with 6:22 left in regulation and Conklin made 25 saves, leading
Edmonton to its fifth straight win.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 13-11-7-6 on the road; Oilers - 20-12-4-3 at