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Oilers get one final crack at figuring out Kings

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Though the argument can be made the Edmonton Oilers have struggled against a lot of NHL teams this season, the Los Angeles Kings have been a particularly problematic opponent.

The Oilers have lost all three games to the Kings this season; they play each other a final time Thursday.

"I find L.A. to be, for our group, the most difficult of the bunch," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "St. Louis is right there too. But for our team, L.A. has a bunch of these robotic players, they keep coming hard, they try to bully you at your net.

"I think they get away with a fair amount, because it's the whole perception of that's how the way they play, and I think they get the benefit of the doubt a lot of the time. Those are things you have to battle through. Our message [Thursday], down low, to our low forwards and our D-men coverage and in our D-zone, is that you have to box these guys out from the front of our net. You can't let them in on top of our goalie, because that's where they like go to."

The Oilers have managed a shootout point against the Kings this season. Oilers goaltender Richard Bachman made 47 saves in a 2-1 shootout loss Oct. 27.

The Kings defeated the Oilers 3-0 in Los Angeles on Dec. 17, and most recently won 4-2 in Edmonton on March 9, with 50 shots on goaltender Ben Scrivens.

"As of the last few years, for sure they've had our number," Oilers left wing Ryan Smyth said. "It's a matter of trying to match their intensity. I think our skill set is equal to or better than those guys, but we have to play a good team game and play in the harder areas that will help our skill prevail."

Los Angeles goes into their game against the Oilers on Thursday on a three-game winless skid. They lost 4-3 in a shootout against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.

The Kings did not take part in a morning skate Thursday.

Each team has two games left in the regular-season schedule. The Kings will finish third in the Pacific Division standings and face the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Oilers will miss the playoffs for an eighth consecutive season.

"We just have to play as well as we can, that's all we can do at this point," Oilers left wing Taylor Hall said. "We just have to play to our capacity and to our full potential. Going into the offseason with a couple of wins is better than going in with a couple of losses and that's my mindset."

Goaltender Viktor Fasth will start for the Oilers on Thursday. Goalie Martin Jones will start for the Kings.

Here are the projected lineups:


Marian GaborikAnze KopitarJustin Williams

Dwight KingJeff CarterTyler Toffoli

Tanner PearsonJarret StollDustin Brown

Kyle CliffordMike RichardsTrevor Lewis

Jake MuzzinSlava Voynov

Willie MitchellAlec Martinez

Andrew CampbellMatt Greene

Martin Jones

Jonathan Quick

Scratched: Jordan Nolan

Injured: Drew Doughty (upper body), Robyn Regehr (undisclosed)


Taylor HallRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle

Ryan SmythSam GagnerDavid Perron

Tyler PitlickAnton LanderPhilip Larsen

Matt HendricksWill ActonSteven Pinizzotto

Martin MarincinJeff Petry

Oscar KlefbomJustin Schultz

Mark FraserAnton Belov

Ben Scrivens

Viktor Fasth

Injured: Jesse Joensuu (ankle), Luke Gazdic (shoulder), Andrew Ference (chest), Ryan Jones (knee), Nail Yakupov, (shoulder), Boyd Gordon (shoulder)

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