Kings 4, Edmonton Oilers 1
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: With the back end of the Western Conference playoff race so compressed, a contending team can take a giant step in either direction once the nightly dust settles. Never was that more evident than Friday night, when the Kings earned a key victory at Rexall Place in Edmonton, about a half hour before Dallas lost in Vancouver, moving them from eighth in the West to third with four games remaining.
THE STAT: After six straight games against teams trying to get into the playoffs, or just better their position, the Kings finally matched up against an opponent who didn’t have much to play for. It showed, as the Oilers managed just five shots on goal through the halfway point of the game and 14 overall.
TURNING POINT: Kings center Mike Richards has been somewhat of a disappointment lately, but he continues to be spectacular when it comes to short-handed goals. He pocketed his fourth of the season midway through the first period to put the Kings back on top, 2-1, and steal any wind that may have sneaked into the Oilers’ sails.
HOT: The defensive corps in L.A. continues to chip in on the offensive end, and that’s always a boost for a team scratching to make the playoffs. Drew Doughty scored the third goal of the game and Alec Martinez the fourth, giving the defensemen 13 goals in the last 19 games. The blue-liners also chipped in with four assists against Edmonton.
NOT: Kings left wing Dustin Penner returned to the city where he spent 3 ½ seasons until he was sent to L.A. at last season’s trade deadline. He must have been in the giving mood because he had four giveaways and no points.
GOOD MOVE: Getting off to a good start was crucial and the Kings didn't waste any time, taking a 1-0 lead 52 seconds into the game. Rookie left wing Dwight King took a shot from the right faceoff dot and he appeared to catch Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin by surprise. His reaction became clearer about 45 minutes later, when the goal was changed to Anze Kopitar on a deflection in front of the net, his 25th of the season.
BAD MOVE: The Kings gave the lead right back after defenseman Matt Greene went to the penalty box for hooking former teammate Ryan Smyth, opening the door for Jordan Eberle to cash in the power play goal 42 seconds after the Kings had taken the 1-0 lead. The shot came from the half wall and beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick on the short side for one of those “soft goals” he has been giving up a little too often. Fortunately, the Oilers weren’t in the mood to test him much tonight.
NOTABLE: The Kings played without forward Jeff Carter, who suffered an ankle injury late in Wednesday’s victory against Calgary. He’s also expected to miss Saturday’s game in Minnesota. There was also a late scoring change on the third goal by the Kings. It was originally awarded to Dustin Brown on a deflection in front of the net during a second-period power play, but later credited to Doughty, who took the original shot ... It was an especially tough night for Edmonton blue liners as Latislav Smid suffered neck injury in the second period and did not return, and Jeff Petry was hit in the face with the puck during a second-period power play and left the game with a facial contusion.
UP NEXT: Saturday at the Minnesota Wild, 5 p.m. PT.