The Edmonton Oilers went into Sunday’s game against the Kings as one of the NHL’s biggest messes. They gave up a league-high 48 goals through 12 games to start the season and were a dismal 3-8-1 after a 5-4 loss Saturday to the Phoenix Coyotes. Their goaltending was subpar, with Jason LaBarbera not exactly sharp as a tack. Richard Bachman was recalled from the minor leagues and he got the start against the Kings, and nearly earned a victory. The Kings took 48 shots at him, but got only one past him during a 2-1 shootout victory. Here are three things to consider about a game that very nearly got away from the Kings:
1. The Kings improved to 5-0 in overtime or shootouts this season, with Jonathan Quick stopping 10 of 11 shots he’s faced in shootouts. That’s a good sign for a team that likes to play tight games with low scores. Quick is 34-18 in shootouts, the fifth-most victories among active goalies. Part of winning those things is projecting something akin to an invincible aura. Quick did it again Sunday after giving up Jordan Eberle’s goal to start the shootout. He saved David Perron’s try and then watched Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ shot sail wide of his net. It was a game the Kings could have easily lost, but didn’t because they wouldn’t fold in the clutch.
2. Mike Richards had the Kings’ only goal in regulation and one of two in the shootout. Anze Kopitar had what proved to be the winner in the shootout. In many ways, the Kings have become a team of Richards and Jeff Carter. They are making things happen for the Kings. Richards has eight points (two goals, six assists) in his last 10 games. Carter has three points in his last three games (one goal, two assists). Richards had three shots on net Sunday and also had a goal washed out because Matt Frattin interfered with Bachman. Carter had two shots on goal.
3. What’s troubling about the Kings’ showing against the Oilers was their inability to beat a fill-in goalie who was toiling in the minor leagues as recently as Saturday. The Kings fired 48 shots at Bachman, but only Richards could beat him. Many of the Kings’ shots were from the perimeter and with little traffic in front. On others, they had traffic, but either Bachman didn’t give up a rebound or the Oilers cleared the puck out of danger. The Kings went 0 for 4 on the power play in regulation and then misfired on a 4-on-3 situation in overtime. It wasn’t pretty. Here’s what Kopitar had to say at game’s end: “You’ve got to keep plugging away. That’s what it is. Last game we scored four in the first (period of a 7-4 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday). Tonight, we couldn’t do it. But you can’t get frustrated, keep on going, keep on going. Eventually, they’re going to go in. Having 48 shots meant we were doing something right.”