Kopitar-less Kings visit OilersMar 29, 2011 - 3:36 PM
Los Angeles will try to win its fourth straight contest and deal the Edmonton Oilers a 10th setback in a row this evening in Dustin Penner's return to Rexall Place.
An 8-2-2 record this month has helped the Kings stay competitive in a tight Western Conference. They are currently tied with the Predators for fifth overall in the standings, one point behind the Coyotes and one up on the Ducks with seven games to go. Los Angeles is also five points behind Pacific Division-leading San Jose.
However, a third straight victory on Saturday came at a cost as Kopitar exited the 4-1 triumph over Colorado with what was revealed on Monday to be torn ligaments in his right ankle that will sideline him indefinitely. The forward, who is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, leads the Kings with 73 points and his injury came just five days after Los Angeles lost Justin Williams for at least the rest of the regular season with a dislocated right shoulder.
"[Kopitar's] our best player. We have to find a way either way ... you don't want have your best player go down but if that's the case, we need to fill the responsibility collectively and find a way because no other team is going to feel sorry for us," said Kings captain Dustin Brown.
"We have our top two scorers possibly out, I don't know the severity of the injuries but that's part of the 82-game schedule, and at the end of the day we have find a way to keep going as a team."
Kopitar, who is tied with Brown for the team lead in goals with 25, will have his club-record run of 330 straight games played end tonight.
Some added pressure may now fall on goaltender Jonathan Quick, who made 20 saves in Saturday's win. Trevor Lewis and Ryan Smyth added a goal and an assist each.
One player who the Kings will look to step up is Penner, who was acquired from the Oilers prior to last month's trade deadline. The 28-year-old has just two goals and four assists in 12 games since the trade after notching 21 goals and 39 points in 62 games with Edmonton this year.
Penner had been with the Oilers since the 2007-08 season and totaled 93 goals in 304 games with the franchise.
Los Angeles has won five straight on the road and will visit NHL-leading Vancouver on Thursday after this favorable matchup.
The Kings have won all three of their meetings with the Oilers so far this year and can sweep this season series for the first time tonight. Los Angeles has won six of eight overall against Edmonton and five straight at Rexall Place, where it hasn't lost since Feb. 28, 2008.
Jonathan Bernier is expected to get the call tonight for LA. He won his only career start versus the Oilers on Jan. 15, stopping 24-of-26 shots faced.
Edmonton, 0-6-3 over its past nine, is on its worst slide since a 13-game skid from Dec. 31-Jan. 30 of last season and blew a three-goal lead in the third period in Saturday's 5-4 shootout loss to Calgary. Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves, but gave up the only goal of the tiebreaker in the first round.
Ryan Jones, Colin Fraser, Teemu Hartikainen and Magnus Paajarvi all scored for the Oilers, but Jordan Eberle, Jones and Hartikainen all failed in the shootout.
"We played so well for so long and then definitely took the foot off the gas pedal and let a good team back into it," Eberle said.
Edmonton, last in the NHL with 57 points, continues to play without Shawn Horcoff, Sam Gagner, Gilbert Brule, Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky.
Dubnyk is 1-1-1 with a 2.85 GAA in his career against the Kings.
- LOS ANGELES: 2
Mar 30 12:10 AM
- LOS ANGELES: 2
End of 2nd
Mar 29 11:20 PM
- Los Angeles Goal - Dustin Brown (27), from Trevor Lewis at 14:56.
Kings 2, Oilers 0 2nd - 5:04Mar 29 11:18 PM
- Los Angeles Goal - Dustin Brown (26), at 5:11.
Kings 1, Oilers 0 2nd - 14:49Mar 29 10:49 PM
- LOS ANGELES: 0
End of 1st
Mar 29 10:24 PM
- LOS ANGELES: 0
1st Period - 20:00
Mar 29 9:45 PM
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