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AT THE OILERS' HOTEL
After a late practice on Wednesday afternoon, the Oilers opted to rest their troops on Thursday morning instead of going for a morning skate. The team had an off-ice workout in the morning at their hotel in Santa Monica before an availability with the media just before noon.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney welcomed the challenge against the Kings - a team that he very much admires.
"I think they're legitimate. It's probably not hurt them to be just outside that playoff picture. They obviously have great drive and Terry (Murray) does a great job coaching these guys," the bench boss remarked.
The style of play that the Kings play could pose some issues for the Oilers but should also make for a very exciting match-up this evening.
"I really like these guys. They play hard. They're a little bit riverboat but they play hard," he continued.
Renney went on to talk about how the Oilers need to play to match the Kings' intensity and enthusiasm but also create an effective counterattack.
"We're still working on that transition game ourselves, of our defenceman to have the green light to go," he said. "We want to make sure that we do have numbers above the puck so when they turn it over we can attack with those same numbers."
Tonight is the first of four meetings this season between the Oilers and Kings. Each team won twice last season with both of the Oilers' victories coming in a shootout and coming in Los Angeles.
DUBNYK GETS THE START
The biggest star of Edmonton's second victory against the Kings was goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who turned aside 52 shots and following that up with a winning shootout performance as well. Oilers head coach Tom Renney confirmed that Dubnyk will get the nod this evening.
"It was a fun game last year, and exciting the way it turned out. I'll just try to build off the good things I've been doing."
Dubnyk hasn't played much since Nikolai Khabibulin has returned from injury with only one start since that time - a 2-1 loss to the Canucks. The towering netminder brushed off any thoughts about competition between the two, however.
"Khabi's playing fantastic and it's exciting to watch. My job is to wait, watch and learn, and be ready to go when I get a chance," said Dubnyk. "I don't know if it's really a competition between us. It's pretty set, our roles and positions. I'm just trying to follow him up and do my job as a backup, give the guys a chance to win whenever I get the call."
POWER PLAY A KEY TONIGHT
One key to tonight's game could be the team's power play. A key factor in Tuesday's loss was the team's inability to convert on an extended two-man advantage against the Sharks. That fact was not lost on Taylor Hall.
"There's not a whole lot of five-on-three opportunities but you have to make it that much more worthwhile when you do get a chance because they don't come by often," said Hall.
On Wednesday, the team spent a lot of time practicing the power play. Head coach Tom Renney stressed it needed to get better.
"We have to cash in on our power play, really, at any time," Renney said. "We worked on it a bit yesterday. It's just so fundamental."
OTHER ADJUSTMENTS COMING?
Yesterday, Renney hinted that Steve MacIntyre could see an appearance in the lineup tonight against the Kings. When asked today, he didn't confirm that a decision has been made but didn't rule out that change - or potentially some others.
"That'll be a gametime decision. Whether I rearrange things beyond that remains to be seen."
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Sportsnet One's companion channel, Sportsnet Oilers. Here are the channel numbers for the various carriers:
SHAW: 327 (SD) 304 (HD)
TELUS: 107 (SD) 678 (HD)
BELL: 437 (SD) 1437 (HD)
Last 10: Edmonton 6-3-1; Los Angeles 6-3-1
Season series: This is the first of four meetings this season between these teams, who will play each other twice more in the next six weeks. The Kings and Oilers split their series last season, with both of Edmonton's wins coming via shootout.
Big story: After acquiring him from Boston, the Kings placed winger Marco Sturm on their active roster this week. In his first game since offseason knee surgery, Sturm registered one shot in the Kings' 5-0 win Tuesday night over the Avalanche. … After enjoying a hot streak to start December, the Oilers have dropped three of their last four games, including a 2-1 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday.
Edmonton: In the opener to a three-game road trip, the Oilers fell behind 2-0 in San Jose before Dustin Penner's third-period goal bridged the gap. The eventual loss closed out a six-game homestand in which the Oil went 3-3.
"We had four turnovers on our 5-on-3, and that tells you that we're trying to do something that's not there," coach Tom Renney said following the loss in San Jose. "That sort of led to our demise. We got into a track meet in the second period (by) not managing the puck properly."
Kings: On Tuesday night, Los Angeles completed its five-game road trip in style with an impressive 5-0 dismantling of the Avalanche. In ending Colorado's six-game win streak, the Kings went 3-2 on the trip. Kings' captain Dustin Brown continued his hot play with a four-point night in Denver that included a two-goal third period.
"When you're playing those five games, like we have on the road, and come back and play the third period (like that), that's a big buy-in by everybody," coach Terry Murray said. "There was a real solid attitude about the team."
Who's hot: With his four-point night in Denver, Brown has been on fire for the Kings, registering 12 points in his last six games. Not to be outdone, winger Anze Kopitar has 14 points in his last 11 games. … With his goal in San Jose, Dustin Penner now has 3 goals in his last six games. Ryan Whitney, who assisted on Penner's goal, is enjoying a modest three-game point streak and is first in the League among defensemen with 25 assists.
Injury report: Gilbert Brule missed Tuesday's game with an illness while Jim Vandermeer is out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Ales Hemsky (groin) and Shawn Horcoff (knee) remain on IR for the Oilers. … Matt Greene missed Tuesday's game in Colorado after sustaining an upper-body injury Saturday night in Nashville, a game that also saw fellow defenseman Willie Mitchell leave with a lower-body injury. Mitchell remains week-to-week while Scott Parse (hip surgery) is on IR.
Stat pack: Rarely do they match up statistically, but with one more minor penalty, Zack Stortini will pass Hall-of-Famer Paul Coffey for 17th on the Oilers' all-time penalty-minutes list. … Don't expect much offense from Rob Scuderi. His goal against the Avs was his first regular-season marker since opening night of the 2008-09 season, when he was with the Penguins, a span of 184 games.
Puck drop: While both teams are known for their core of young, exciting scorers, they are polar opposites in the defensive zone. The Kings rank fourth in the League in goals allowed per game and the Oilers rank 29th, making goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin imperative to the team's success.
"He's the reason why we win," Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle said of Khabibulin following a 6-3 win last week over Columbus.
-- Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer