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Oilers' victory damages Kings' playoff hopes

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- The Los Angeles Kings' chances of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs took a big hit at Rexall Place on Tuesday.

Matt Fraser scored twice and goaltender Richard Bachman made 25 saves in a 4-2 win against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

The loss dropped the Kings (39-26-15) two points behind the Calgary Flames for third place in the Pacific Division. Los Angeles also fell three points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

Calgary defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 and the Jets won 1-0 against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. The Kings are at the Flames on Thursday and conclude their regular season with a home game against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

"It's a disappointing outcome," Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin said of losing to the Oilers, a team they defeated 8-2 in Los Angeles last week. "We were a little sluggish early on and it kind of carried on throughout the game. They capitalized on our mistakes and we didn't do that back to them. All we can do is regroup and get some energy back in the room and some positive vibes going, and go to Calgary and get two points there."

Benoit Pouliot and Tyler Pitlick also scored for Edmonton (24-47-8), which snapped a three-game losing streak that included the rout by the Kings last Thursday. Edmonton hosts the Sharks on Thursday and concludes its regular season at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

Muzzin and Drew Doughty scored for Los Angeles and backup goaltender Martin Jones, getting the start in place of Jonathan Quick, made 18 saves.

"We looked at our schedule and you have to use them both," coach Darryl Sutter said when asked why he gave Quick the night off. "He had a strong game tonight. It wasn't a decision that was made yesterday, it was made a few days ago."

It was the first game for Bachman since the death of his older brother, Shelby. He improved to 3-0-1 in his career against the Kings and is 3-2-0 with Edmonton.

"I was proud of the way the guys played, the way they helped me out, especially not playing in a week and having pretty much just one practice before this," Bachman said. "I was pretty proud of the guys and their effort. I thought they did a great job matching their physicality, they're a big team. It was great. The last week was extremely tough and to be back with these guys is great and doing what you love, shows how fortunate you are to be here and to be doing this, because not a lot of people can."

Fraser scored 2:34 into the second period to put Edmonton ahead 1-0. He was left unattended at the side of the net and put a rebound past Jones off a long point shot from defenseman Martin Marincin.

Muzzin tied the game 1-1 at 5:44 on the power play, 11 seconds into a delay of game penalty to Oilers defenseman Keith Aulie. Anze Kopitar took a sharp-angle shot that missed the net but bounced off the end boards to Muzzin, who put it into an open net before Bachman could scramble back to the other side.

"We just didn't have enough energy, enough jump," Kopitar said. "It just wasn't good enough. We didn't play our style of game. It was too run-and-gun. When you play a team like Edmonton with all of their speedy forwards, it hurt us. I don't know what the reason was, it just wasn't good enough. That's the bottom line."

Pouliot put Edmonton up 2-1 at 10:09 on a fine individual effort. He stripped Kings forward Trevor Lewis of the puck in the Edmonton zone, raced down the ice and snapped a shot past Jones for his 18th goal.

"I had a lot of speed coming in and I thought I could beat the defensemen up the ice and I did," Pouliot said. "I had a good release, it felt good coming of the stick and it went in, which was good."

Pitlick put Edmonton up 3-1 at 5:31 of the third period, getting to a puck that bounced off the side of the net and snapping a shot over Jones. Pitlick was playing in his first game since Dec. 31, when he sustained a lacerated spleen.

"It was a good game we played hard, I think we played a pretty simple game and just kind of worked hard and it paid off," Pitlick said. "It felt pretty good to get that goal. It was also good to get the win for Richard. Everyone knows how tough it's been for him and for him to come back so quick, everyone wanted to play hard for him, it was a good game."

Bachman gave the Kings a lifeline at 9:38 by allowing Doughty's shot from just over the red line to go through him. But the Kings couldn't get another puck past Bachman before Fraser hit the empty net.

"I thought the second goal against was pretty awesome," Bachman joked when asked about missing Doughty's shot. "I was just trying to get on the top-10 list or something. I'm pretty sure that might make it for this week. He ripped it on the dump-in. I thought it would just hit my stick and go, but with the new pads, it can open up the five-hole a little bit and a two-inch puck found a one-inch hole. We got the win, so we can laugh about it."

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