KINGS (21-11-3) at OILERS (15-13-4)
AT THE MORNING SKATE:
A full contingent of Oilers participated in Tuesday's morning skate at Rexall Place, including defencemen Denis Grebeshkov and Sheldon Souray, as well as forward Gilbert Brule, who had missed Monday's practice due to illness.
With Grebeshkov and Souray both stating they are ready to play tonight, Head Coach Pat Quinn stated that the team may dress seven defencemen and 12 forwards vs. the Kings.
As far as forward lines go, the club's hottest trio -- Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner, and Gilbert Brule -- remained intact at the morning skate, as did the line of Ethan Moreau, Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Potulny.
Changes were made on the following two lines, however, with Robert Nilsson moving up to skate with Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Stone, and Patrick O'Sullivan skating with Zack Stortini and Jean-Francois Jacques.
On the topic of the Nilsson-Horcoff-Stone line, Quinn said he liked what he saw from the group when he debuted it midway through Friday's game in St. Louis.
"It was about in the middle of the second period that I started using Horc on a double shift basis and put him with Stone and Bobby just to see how that might work, and also give Horcoff a little bit more time, and they clicked pretty good I thought.
"Bobby's had some good jump here in the last little while, since he's come back off that illness he seems to be showing things that we didn't see from him earlier on," Quinn continued. "He hasn't thrown a lot up but he made a great play to Horcoff for the winning goal (in St. Louis).
"I think Stone's a really smart player. He's not throwing up any offense either, but it might come if they develop and continue the rapport that seemed to be there in the St. Louis game."
As for the other side, the Kings are coming off a 3-1 loss in Vancouver last night and did not skate at Rexall Place this morning.
Last 10: Los Angeles 7-2-1; Edmonton 6-3-1
Season series: Second of four meetings this season. The Kings have already won once at Rexall Place, 3-1 on Nov. 25. Defenseman Matt Greene, an ex-Oiler, scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:28 remaining before Alexander Frolov added an empty-netter. Wayne Simmonds also scored for L.A. and Ryan Potulny had the Edmonton goal. Jonathan Quick stopped 22 shots for the victory.
Big story: Los Angeles began a four-game road trip Monday with the opportunity to move ahead of Washington for first overall in the League, but saw its four-game winning streak come to an end in Vancouver by a 3-1 final. Now the Kings continue their swing through Western Canada with their second game in as many nights, against an Edmonton squad that has won its last five.
Kings: For the second night in a row, Los Angeles will have the opportunity to take over the lead in the Western Conference – and perhaps the entire League, depending on how Washington and Pittsburgh fare in their games. The Canucks made sure the Kings didn't accomplish that feat Monday by scoring just 1:04 into the game and holding L.A. to just an Alexander Frolov goal late in the first period.
Oilers: Could a six-game road trip have sparked the turnaround to Edmonton's season? The team was languishing after getting routed by Vancouver on its first stop, but since then victories over Detroit, Dallas, Florida, Tampa Bay and St. Louis have followed. The challenge now will be continuing that success on home ice, where the Oilers have won just two of their last six.
"We try to bring the same type of game plan to every game and same type of intensity," forward Sam Gagner said. "I think we're just kind of in a bit of a groove there where we weren't really worried about what happened and just went out and played."
Who's hot: Frolov has scored in consecutive games for Los Angeles. … Edmonton forward Dustin Penner has goals in three straight and is coming off a four-point effort against St. Louis. Forward Gilbert Brule had two goals and an assist in that game. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has two goals and three assists over his last five games.
Injury report: The Kings will be without forwards Wayne Simmonds, Ryan Smyth, Brandon Segal and Andrei Lokitonov.
Oilers coach Pat Quinn indicated defenseman Denis Grebeshkov could return Tuesday after a 13-game absence due to a partially torn medial collateral ligament.
"He might have been ready in St. Louis to give it a try," Quinn said. "(Sheldon) Souray was maybe not going to play that night and then decided he was ready to play, so we held Denis for another day. He has two more practices in so we think he's ready and we want to get him in (against the Kings)."
That would be welcome news for a squad that has been hit hard by injuries. Ales Hemsky is out for the season after shoulder surgery and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, defenseman Taylor Chorney and forwards Marc Pouliot, Mike Comrie and Fernando Pisani are all on injured reserve. Souray missed practice Monday due to a back problem and forward Gilbert Brule was under the weather and told to stay home.
Stat pack: Penner had played just 101 regular-season games for Anaheim when Edmonton signed him to a somewhat controversial offer sheet three seasons ago that the Ducks refused to match. At age 27, we appear to be seeing his breakout season. Penner has 18 goals and 36 points to lead the Oilers in scoring. His career high for points is 47, set in his first season with his new team.
Puck drop: "You cannot play against good hockey clubs without intensity," Kings coach Terry Murray warned after Monday's defeat. It won't take long to find out whether his players got the message, as they face another good hockey club in the Oilers.