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RECAP: Oilers 4, Kings 2

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB – Matt Fraser scored twice and Benoit Pouliot and Tyler Pitlick added goals of their own as the Oilers took down the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 at Rexall Place.

“We talked about it this morning, about making them earn it,” said Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson. “If LA gets the win, they have to earn it and not have us shoot ourselves in the foot. I thought our guys did a really good job. I’m really proud of the effort. I thought we played a physical game, I thought we worked extremely hard, we did a lot of good things and the outcome took care of itself because I felt we earned the win.”

Oilers defenceman Keith Aulie dropped the gloves with Kings blueliner Brayden McNabb at 4:23 of the opening period. The scrap immediately followed a big hit by Aulie on Marian Gaborik.

With just over nine minutes left in the first, Oilers winger Tyler Pitlick nearly set up Anton Lander in front for a wide-open opportunity. Lander couldn’t quite get a handle on the centring pass to get a shot off.

Teddy Purcell almost gave the Oilers a lead early in the second period, but his shot rang off the post and out.

It was Matt Fraser who broke open the scoring at 2:34 of the second, putting a shot past Martin Jones. Martin Marincin initially shot the puck, Fraser tipped it and then scored on the rebound. Anton Lander recorded the second assist. Fraser’s goal was his first since January 29, against Buffalo.

“They’re obviously a big, strong team,” said Fraser. “They obviously can win, and we’ve seen that. We came into this game wanting to play the spoiler. I don’t want to say we put a lot of emphasis on that, but we wanted to play our own game and have a little redemption for what happened in their rink last week.”

Aulie’s delay of game penalty at 5:33 of the second gave Los Angeles their first power play of the night. Jake Muzzin scored from the side of the net to draw Kings even with the Oilers at 5:44. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty earned the assists.

Benoit Pouliot took back the lead for the Oilers at 10:09 of the middle frame. He picked up the puck at the red line and raced it down the right wing on a breakaway, sniping a shot top-left corner. That was Pouliot’s 18th goal of the season, a new career high.

Anton Lander won the draw in the offensive zone and it eventually set up a Tyler Pitlick wrist shot, which put Edmonton up 3-1 at 5:31 of the third period. Lander finished the game 78% in the faceoff dot, with the Oilers missing two centres to injury; Boyd Gordon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Oscar Klefbom recorded the lone assist.

“It felt pretty good to get that one, but I don’t think it was easy. It was good. It felt really good,” said Pitlick.

Pitlick’s goal came in his first game since December 31, as he suffered a lacerated spleen that kept him out of the lineup for 40 games.

“Excellent game for him, for the first game back after injury,” said Nelson. “I thought he was involved, he scored a nice goal, he was playing physical, he was moving his feet. It was really encouraging and nice to see. I thought he played outstanding.”

Another power play goal brought the Kings to within one, at 3-2. Doughty hammered a slap shot from centre that trickled through the legs of Richard Bachman at 9:38 of the final frame.

“I was just trying to get on the top-10 list of something. I’m pretty sure that might make it for this week. It was just he ripped it on a dump-in and I thought it would just hit my stick and go,” Bachman joked about the goal. “With the new pads, they change and stuff and it can open up the five-hole just a little bit and that two-inch puck found a one-inch hole. We got the win, so I can laugh about it.”

Bachman made 25 saves in the win.

Fraser potted the insurance goal with an empty netter with two seconds remaining in the game, to secure the 4-2 victory.

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