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Oilers look to play spoiler against streaking Kings

by Davis Harper

KINGS (36-22-6) at OILERS (22-34-8)


Last 10: Los Angeles 6-4-0; Edmonton 6-2-2

Season series: The Los Angeles Kings are 13-1-4 in their past 18 games against the Edmonton Oilers, including wins in their first two games in 2013-14. Martin Jones had a 24-save shutout Dec. 17 at Staples Center.

Big story: Los Angeles will look to make it seven straight wins, six since the NHL season resumed after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The Kings endured a rough stretch prior to the Olympics, going 1-8-1, but have since rediscovered their knack for winning close games.

The Kings have used that run to solidify their hold on third place in the Pacific Division; they are nine points ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes for the final automatic Stanley Cup Playoff position.

The Oilers have won two straight but remain in 14th place in the Western Conference, five points behind the Calgary Flames.

Team Scope:

Kings: Los Angeles has been elite defensively all season, allowing a League-low 2.05 goals per game. That has continued during the winning streak, with the Kings surrendering eight goals in six games.

It is the offense that has stepped up and made the difference lately. During the skid in late January, the Kings were shut out three times in five games. Since the Olympics, offensive leaders Dustin Brown and Mike Richards are emerging from droughts.

"It was important for us to get on top of it," Brown said. "Our team is capable of it. It's just a matter of doing the right things, and it's going to take everyone. That's what has happened so far and what needs to continue to happen."

Los Angeles opened its three-game road swing with a 3-1 win Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. Brown and Richards scored and the Kings skated for the first time with Marian Gaborik, who was acquired prior to the NHL Trade Deadline from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gaborik took note of the Kings’ commitment to defense and positioning.

"I think that everyone is playing their position," Gaborik said. "Five [players] up, five [players] back. We have great goaltending, and everybody is trying to help out. We have a fast team. Our transition is very good."

Oilers: Thursday, fans -- and Wayne Gretzky, who was in attendance -- found some respite from what has been a difficult season when Edmonton rallied from two goals down in the third period to defeat the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime.

Ryan Smyth scored to pass Gretzky on the Oilers all-time power-play goals list.

"He's my hero," Smyth said of Gretzky. "He's a great ambassador for the game and great for this organization. It was so nice to have him in the building for this.”

After struggling much of this season, the Oilers have looked to play spoiler of late and are 7-2-2 in their past 11 games.

Who’s hot: Richards and Brown have combined for eight points (four goals, four assists) in the past five games. … Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens has earned his new two-year contract with three wins in his past four starts.

Injury report: Los Angeles reports no injuries. … Edmonton defenseman Anton Belov (partially torn oblique) will be out 2-3 weeks. Defenseman Jeff Petry (back) left the game Thursday against the Islanders but appears to be fine.

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