The Oilers close out this quick California trip Friday in Anaheim at 8 p.m. MT against the Ducks. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
LOS ANGELES, CA – The aptly-named Dwight King led the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Oilers on Thursday, setting up one goal and scoring another.
Coming off a disappointing six-game homestand that saw them earn just three of a possible 12 points, punctuated by a 4-1 loss to Ottawa on Tuesday, the Oilers rebounded with a much stronger effort vs. LA. However, the Pacific Division leaders rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the third period to secure the victory.
“We lost the game, which is not what we set out to do, but I think there was a game within the game tonight and that was our ability to come out and regroup after a poor effort against Ottawa and compete hard,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “For the most part, our group did that tonight. For about two and a half periods, that was our best game in a long time.”
The opening frame was a tightly-contested one as both teams reached double digits in shots, but Cam Talbot and Jonathan Quick were perfect between the pipes. D-man Brandon Davidson led Edmonton in shots in the first with three of their 10, while the visitors also dominated in the face-off circle with a 74 percent success rate.
Connor McDavid had one of the Oilers top chances to score in the first period as he corralled a loose puck at the side of the net, but Jake Muzzin took a slashing penalty on him to negate the opportunity. Edmonton was unable to convert on their lone PP of the frame. The new-look line of Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl and Zack Kassian also had some looks with a strong cycle game.
The Oilers continued their strong play in the middle frame, generating more scoring chances. They eventually got one past Quick with just 65 seconds to go, but not before the LA goalie thwarted some more prime attempts.
Davidson carried the puck from his own end into the attacking zone, made a give-and-go with Jordan Eberle positioned on the half-wall and then set up McDavid alone in front, but his backhand was denied. McDavid got yet another golden chance later in the period, but once again Quick shut the door, sprawling to stop the rookie’s deke at the side of the net.
Kassian was the one to finally solve the home netminder, as his line entered the zone, with Draisaitl flipping a pass to the middle for Hall, who shovelled it over to Kassian on the left wing. He faked a slapshot to freeze Quick and defenceman Luke Schenn before flicking a wrist shot under the goalie’s arm for his third of the season.
Hall and Draisaitl added to their team-best point totals with the helpers, Taylor getting his 53rd and Leon making it 43 for the season.
“We skated well,” Kassian said of his new line. “It’s only one game, and I think we can improve and read off each other more... We all have more to give. When you lose a hockey game, you simply need to do more. Sometimes it’s getting to the dirty areas a bit more, but there are things we can build off definitely.”
Talbot was superb between the pipes for much of the game, but the Kings finally got one past him 5:27 into the third period. He made an outstanding pad save to deny Tyler Toffoli’s deke, but Jeff Carter followed up and poked in the loose puck in the crease to make it a 1-1 game heading into the final stretch.
LA’s “70’s Line” (referencing their jersey numbers) struck again as King scored the game-winner at 14:10 of the third, redirecting a shot from Carter underneath a screened Talbot’s left pad. Toffoli picked up the other assist to complete the two-point game trifecta for the line.
The Oilers pressed with the extra attacker in the final two minutes but Quick stood his ground to preserve the win for the home squad, finishing with 26 saves.
“We did a lot of good things, but at the end of the day we want to get two points,” Kassian said. “It’s a matter of winning and losing, but it showed we can play with the best of teams if we play the right way and everyone chips in. I don’t think it was just one line. Everybody played the right way tonight. Obviously, we’re not happy with the outcome, but we can build off that.”
“I thought we played really well,” added Jujhar Khaira, who played 13:51 in his first game back up from AHL Bakersfield. “We started off hard right from the first period, first shift. There were times where I think we could’ve got more shots to the net, but overall I think our team played really well. It would’ve been nice to get a different outcome, but I think it was a step in the right direction.”
The brief two-game trek to California wraps up on Friday night in Anaheim with an 8pm MT start time. It’ll be the fourth matchup of the season between the Pacific Division foes, with the Oilers winning 4-3 in OT back in November and the resurgent Ducks taking the two most recent meetings.
Both Justin Schultz and Teddy Purcell were healthy scratches for the LA game. Coach McLellan said he would consider putting them back in the lineup vs. Anaheim “if they’re available to us and if they’re ready to play."