The Kings found a way to get a win, and a point in a fourth straight game, against an Edmonton Oilers team that left no excuse for a letdown.
Ryan Smyth was credited with two goals after replays showed enough evidence that his wooden stick got a piece of two deep Drew Doughty blasts. Jack Johnson had the other goal, and Jonathan Quick turned in an acrobatic (if not technically perfect) 32-save effort.
Whether this was a notable turning point for the offensively challenged Kings, or merely a solid road win against a bad team, will be revealed over the course of the nine straight road games that await.
For now, it’s worth noting that the Kings had to come from behind after a Magnus Paajarvi goal gave the Oilers (15-27-8) a 1-0 lead at 3:21 of the second period. They did so on the strength of a previously weak power play.
Smyth answered with his first goal 24 seconds later – five seconds into a power play – and scored again on the Kings’ next power play at 9:47, sliding across Nikolai Khabibulin’s field of vision as Doughty released a shot.
The Kings finished 2-for-4 on the power play after going 1-for-28 with the man advantage in their previous 10 games. Doughty finished with two primary assists and Johnson had two secondary assists, along with his deep blast past Khabibulin at 14:52 of the third period.
Edmonton went without a power-play goal in five chances against the Kings, falling to 3-for-26 on the man advantage in its last six games. Before that, the Oilers did not score a power-play goal in 11 games. It was the type of game the Kings were hoping for, if not expecting.
A few more notes:
The Drew Doughty/Taylor Hall rivalry is on. Doughty, who checked Hall hard into the boards during the teams’ last meeting at Staples Center on Jan. 15, took umbrage to a high stick by Hall in the first period. The chirping appeared to continue throughout the game.
It seems like they’ve been catalyzing the offense all season, but Johnson and Doughty both broke out of mini-point droughts. Johnson hadn’t scored a goal since Dec. 30, and Doughty notched his first multi-point game since Jan. 15.
Kevin Westgarth was a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game, as Terry Murray went with a fourth line of Kyle Clifford, Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis. Alexei Ponikarovsky, Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds were reunited on the checking line that started the season together.
Matt Greene had a team-leading three blocked shots, none more important than one off the stick of Paajarvi headed toward an open net at 2:48 of the third period. The shot looked (on TV) like it would have tied the game had Greene’s stick not intervened.
The Kings moved to 16-0-0 when leading after two periods, one of only four teams (Rangers, Avs, ‘Canes) that can claim a perfect record in such situations.
The Kings are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks at 52 points, currently good for eighth in the Western Conference standings. Because the ‘Hawks have a game in hand, they technically own the final playoff position, but with nine teams separated by five points, these things will change on a daily basis from now until the trade deadline.