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Winless Kings continue road swing at Oilers

by Pete Jensen

KINGS (0-2-0) at OILERS (1-1-0)


Season series: Thursday's game marks the first of three meetings between the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers. The Western Conference foes collide again at Rexall Place on Feb. 19 before closing their head-to-head slate April 6 at Staples Center. The clubs split their four-game series in 2011-12.

Big story: The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings are in search of their first win as they continue their three-game road trip with this stop in Edmonton. The Oilers hope to bounce back two days after a lopsided 6-3 home loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Team scope:

Kings: Last spring, the Kings became the first eighth-seeded team in League history to raise the Stanley Cup. Though their memorable postseason was defined by timely goal-scoring and stellar play by Jonathan Quick, their goaltender did not have much support during the regular season. The Kings sported the NHL's second-worst goals-per-game average (2.29; Minnesota Wild, 2.02).

Two games into this season, it's a similar story. The Kings have mustered three goals in two games, and Quick has struggled with eight goals allowed. They welcomed back leading scorer Anze Kopitar from injury for Tuesday's game, but were held off the scoreboard in the final two periods of a 3-1 loss at the Colorado Avalanche.

"Players are going to go through periods where they don’t score," Kings coach Darryl Sutter told after practice Wednesday. "That's going to happen. We're just trying to get them there. It's one of those things with a 48-game schedule. It's not about what you did or what you think, it's about what you're doing."

Oilers: Rookie phenoms Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz scored their first NHL goals in Edmonton's home opener Tuesday, but they were overshadowed in a game that was virtually over after 20 minutes. San Jose's Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau each scored twice in the first period, and the Sharks chased Devan Dubnyk with six goals on 17 shots.

The Oilers want to use the defeat as motivation Thursday.

"We forgot what was going on behind us," Oilers defenseman Ladislav Smid told the team's website. "We forgot how to play defense. That's what happened and it can't happen again. It was a disaster."

Who's hot: The Kings' offense has been quiet, but it received a lift from its fourth line Tuesday. Kyle Clifford, who went pointless in three games last postseason, helped L.A. open the scoring with a first-period goal. … Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle, who led the American Hockey League in scoring during the work stoppage, had two assists Tuesday after scoring a goal in the NHL season opener Sunday against the Vancouver Canucks.

Injury report: Kings defenseman Matt Greene (back) was placed on injured reserve this week and reportedly will miss the remainder of the season. Willie Mitchell (knee surgery) practiced this week and is with the team on its current road swing. … The Oilers are expected to be without Ben Eager (concussion), Andy Sutton (knee), Theo Peckham (hip flexor), Ryan Jones (eye) and Nikolai Khabibulin (hip).

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