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Oilers road trip continues in L.A. tonight

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers travel to Los Angeles for game two of their three-game road trip tonight as they pay their first visit of the season to the Staples Center.

Edmonton sits fifth in the Northwest Division with 42 points in 41 games but are still within striking distance of both eighth place in the Western Conference and first in the division. Currently, the Oilers are three points behind Minnesota for eighth and hold a game in hand on the Wild. The Oilers are seven points back of Vancouver but have two games in hand on the Canucks.

The Kings have a bit tougher road to get back into the race. They have 37 points after 43 games and sit 13th in the West but are playing better of late. After losing four straight heading into the Christmas break, the Kings have now won four of six.

Last time these two teams met, the Kings scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Oilers 7-4 at Rexall Place back on December 28.

OILERS TO WATCH: Petr Nedved has two points in two games since returning to the Oilers last week. He scored a power play goal in his first game and followed that up with an assist on the game-tying marker Friday night in Vancouver... Ryan Smyth was held scoreless on Friday for the first time since returning from injury after a 10-game absence. Smyth had scored six goals and four assists for 10 points in five games prior to Friday night... Fernando Pisani has three goals in his last six games and now had nine on the season through 41 games. Pisani had 18 goals in 80 games in 2005-06.

KINGS TO WATCH: Last time these two teams met, Derek Armstrong had a career night with three assists. Armstrong ranks among the Kings' leaders with 29 points in 38 games played. The 33-year-old's career high in points is 41, set last season... The Kings' recent reversal of fortune has had a lot to do with the return of goaltender Mathieu Garon. The Los Angeles netminder returned to action on Dec. 28 against the Oilers and has won three of four starts since coming back, including a shutout on January 3 vs. Columbus... Rookie Anze Kopitar is tied for second on the Kings with 36 points and is second among all NHL rookies, behind only Evgeni Malkin (39 pts).

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton - Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Ladislav Smid (shoulder) is out. Daniel Tjarnqvist (hip) is questionable. Los Angeles - Dan Cloutier (hip) is out. Scott Thornton (wrist) is questionable.

FAST FACTS: The win by Garon over the Oilers on Dec. 28 was his first career victory against Edmonton. Overall, Garon has a 1-5-0 record against the Oilers in his career... Alexander Frolov just had a streak snapped where he had five consecutive multi-point games. It was the longest by a Kings player since Wayne Gretzky also recorded five straight multi-point games in November 1995... Defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky has five goals and nine points in his last five games... Jan Hejda has registered three assists in his last five games for the Oilers.
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