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MORNING SKATE REPORT: Oilers vs. Kings

The Oilers host the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday in the third game of a five-game home stand

by Jamie Umbach and Tony Brar / EdmontonOilers.com

The Oilers host the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday as they continue a five-game home stand at Rogers Place.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet West or listen on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. 

Watch interviews, read the latest Oilers news, and more below in the Pre-Game report.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs. LAK 03.26.19

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from Monday's Oilers practice.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - The Edmonton Oilers (33-34-8) look to even up the season series against the Los Angeles Kings (27-29-8) as they continue a five-game homestand.

The Oilers are coming off a 4-3 overtime defeat to the hands of the Ottawa Senators on Saturday while the Kings are playing in the second half of a back-to-back set in Alberta.

Los Angeles was victorious against the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames on Monday night with goals from Derek Forbort, Jonny Brodzinski and Tyler Toffoli en route to a 3-0 victory.

Jack Campbell turned aside 42 shots for his second career shutout and eighth win of the season. Jonathan Quick is expected to get the start at Rogers Place tonight but will be made apparent during warm-ups.

Quick is 22-6-5 with a .932 Sv% and a 1.83 GAA in his career against the Oilers.

For the Kings, Monday night's victory marked three straight in the win column.

"They've got championship pedigree," said Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock following Tuesday's Morning Skate. "They've got a lot of players that are on the team that are still good players that know how to win. They've augmented the young fast guys in. Now, the young fast guys are contributing but they still got championship pedigree. They've got a lot of players that know what it takes.

"Their team is organized right now. They're playing that heavy brand of hockey."

The Kings currently lead the season series 2-1. The home team has taken all three contests thus far.

SCORING FIRST

The first goal of any hockey game can dictate which way the pendulum swings for long stretches of a match. For the Kings, the first goal usually dictates which Kings team we can see for the rest of the night.

When scoring first, the Kings are 20-4-2 - in context, the Kings have 28 total wins this season. When the opposition scores first against L.A., their record plummets to 8-35-6.

"The first goal is huge. That's like every game," said Leon Draisaitl on Tuesday. "If you play with the lead, you often play a little looser, you have more confidence.

"They've had a lot of success in the last couple of years. They still have a lot of veteran players from that (2014 Stanley Cup winning) team. They know how to defend leads and how to play that way. We'll have to make sure we get off to a good start and hopefully score the first goal."

Despite being outshot 11-6 in the final period Monday night against Calgary, the Kings limited the Flames to perimeter shots and squandered Flames' opportunity off the rush by clogging the neutral zone.

"Once they were up (last night versus Calgary), they shut things down," said Josh Currie. "They do a great job defensively. They're a big, heavy team over there. Getting one early is definitely huge. It'll put them on their heels."

Added Hitchcock on the Kings' success when playing with the lead: "They get a lead and then lean on you for 50 minutes. It takes a lot to fight through that because that's big body hockey. Now they've got some quickness in the lineup that augments that and makes them more effective."

The Oilers are 22-11-3 when scoring first and 11-23-5 when their opponent notches the first goal.

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Hitchcock 03.26.19

VOTE OF CONFIDENCE

Joe Gambardella and Josh Currie are earning the trust of their head coach.

The former has been able to make an impact in his last two contests, recording two assists - including his first career NHL point - and having a plus-2 rating. His 9:54 TOI last game has been the highest of his nine-game NHL career but we can expect a new career-high on Tuesday when he suits up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson on the team's second line.

"When you come up from the American Hockey League, it's so much quicker up here," said Hitchcock during his morning availability. "Being able to anticipate, being able to think, to be able to react quicker takes time. In the last 10 days, (both Gambardella's and Currie's) process of processing things on the ice has sped up and they're more effective because of it. You get to see where a guy is going to be rather than just see if he's a band-aid or a call-up or actually play. You never know that stuff until you get up to speed thinking-wise.

"Both guys' games have improved a lot. Their patience with the puck and quickness of thought have improved a lot in the last 10 days."

Currie is expected to flank veterans Kyle Brodziak and Milan Lucic against the Kings. The Charlottetown, PEI native was able to crack the 10:00 mark (TOI) for the first time in nine games on Saturday against the Senators.

"When you come up, you're obviously a little bit nervous because you're playing against the best players in the world," said Currie ahead of Tuesday's game against the Kings. "You don't want to make mistakes. But every day we're up here, we're just getting more comfortable just being around the guys, around the league and just playing. Being more comfortable and getting used to things is the biggest difference. Nothing is really given in this league - everything is earned. We just need to work hard every day."

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Currie 03.26.19

LINEUP NOTES

Head Coach Ken Hitchcock held an optional morning skate on Tuesday. It is expected that Jujhar Khaira will remain out with a day-to-day injury.

Based off Monday's practice, the lines appear to be:

Forwards

Draisaitl - McDavid - Kassian

Gambardella - RNH - Chiasson

Rieder - Cave - Gagner

Lucic - Brodziak - Currie

Defence

Klefbom - Larsson

Nurse - Russell

Sekera - Benning

Goalie

Koskinen

-- Tony Brar, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Draisaitl 03.26.19

PREVIEW

OILERS (33-34-8) vs. KINGS (27-39-8)

TV: 7:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet West

Head-to-Head:

Tuesday's meeting will be the fourth and final time the Oilers and Kings face one another this season. The Kings took the advantage in the season series back on January 5 at the Staples Center when they shut out the Oilers 4-0.

In all of the previous three games, the home side has been victorious.

Oilers team scope:

A single point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon leaves the Oilers seven points back of the Colorado Avalanche with a game in hand for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with seven games left on the schedule.

A win on Tuesday would keep the fight for playoffs alive for the Oilers, who are 9-5-2 in their last 16 games. Connor McDavid needs one point to set a new career high for points, and Zack Kassian is riding a three-game point streak after scoring his 14th goal of the season against Ottawa.

Joe Gambardella skated on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson on Monday, meaning the forward could see top-six minutes in his 10th NHL game.

Kings team scope:

 The Kings, sitting last in the Western Conference, won't have any part of the playoffs this season, but a 3-0 shutout in Calgary last night sees them arrive in Edmonton with momentum. 

Jack Campbell, a first-round pick of the Kings back in 2010, made 42 saves to extend Los Angeles' winning streak to three.

Anze Kopitar, the Kings' leading scorer with 53 points (21G, 32A), has 11 points (3G, 8A) in his last seven games versus the Oilers.

By the Numbers:

Drew Doughty has been held without a goal in each of his last 24 games...  

Leon Draisaitl has a career-best 95 points (43G, 52A) in 75 games this season, and his 43 goals are second-most in the NHL... Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has a career-best 61 points (25G, 36A) in 75 games this season and goals in three of his last four games...

The Oilers have won five of their last six home games against the Kings after going 4-13-0 in their previous 17 meetings at home...

Injury Report:

OILERS - Jesse Puljujarvi (hip) is on IR; Jujhar Khaira (foot) is day-to-day.

KINGS - Brendan Leipsic (lower body) is day-to-day.

-- Jamie Umbach, EdmontonOilers.com

Video: PRE-GAME RAW | Kassian 03.26.19

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