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AT THE MORNING SKATE
After enjoying a full day away from the rink, the Oilers took the bus from Santa Monica into Los Angeles for a skate at Staples Center Saturday morning.
Edmonton earned a confident win Thursday night in San Jose, and head coach Tom Renney will follow the same recipe in the hope of producing a similar result vs. the Kings tonight.
An unchanged line-up means that rookie Taylor Hall, normally a left winger, will play centre between Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky for the third straight game.
"I feel more comfortable at centre as every shift goes by, and certainly playing with those two guys, a couple of experienced guys, it helps a lot," Hall said. "It's only been two games, we've played pretty well so far, and we've got to keep that going."
Playing "pretty well" is an understatement: Thursday night vs. the Sharks, the trio combined for three goals and eight points to help propel the Oil to a 5-2 victory.
"We were fortunate enough to have a really good game," Hall added. "We've got to build on that game. We've got to string together four, five games where we're really playing well and doing well for our team."
DUBNYK, PART DEUX
Another young player who excelled in San Jose was Devan Dubnyk. The 24-year-old goaltender stopped 41 shots for the win, a performance that helped secure him another start tonight.
"I think you have to reward a strong performance in any position quite honestly, and he hasn't had that luxury yet," Renney explained. "He's a young goaltender, like any of our skaters, that needs the opportunity to play."
Dubnyk said "it feels great" to get his second straight start but adds he isn't looking further ahead than tonight's game.
"Obviously a goalie's job is to go out there and earn his starts, and it's exciting that I get the opportunity to go again," he said. "I think we were going to be splitting these next two games regardless so it's just to change up the rotation a little bit.
"I don't want to be happy or satisfied with a couple games. I just want to continue to work and do what I've been working on that's allowed me to have some success."
TOPPLING THE KINGS
To continue success in California, Edmonton will have to post a strong performance tonight in Los Angeles.
Tonight's game concludes a lengthy eight-game homstand for the Kings in which they've earned only one win. Despite their opponent's struggles, the Oilers aren't taking them lightly.
"They are a good team," Tom Gilbert said. "They've got a lot of offensive power, so for us it's more focusing on our game. We've been playing a great team game -- penalty kill, system play, neutral zone stuff -- and it's been great for us, so if we continue that, we'll obviously give ourselves a good chance to win."
Renney is looking for a complete, hard-fought game from his club.
"They're certainly going to try to come out hard and put us in our place as quickly as possible," the coach said. "We have to make sure they get the message right away that that's not about to happen.
"Anytime a team is struggling, if you play smart and take your game to them, there's a point in time where it's a tipping point. What we have to do is play 60 minutes real hard and see what the results are."
-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
Last 10: Edmonton 2-6-2; Los Angeles 3-7-0
Season Series: Second of four meetings this season. Jarret Stoll scored in the sixth round of a shootout to give Los Angeles a 3-2 win over Edmonton at Staples Center on Dec. 23. Justin Williams and Jack Johnson scored in regulation for the Kings, while Taylor Hall and Jean-Francois Jacques had the Oilers' goals.
Big Story: Edmonton finishes off a five-game road trip with two games in less than 24 hours, as they face Anaheim on Sunday. But first things first, the team with the least points in the Western Conference will bid for a second straight win in Los Angeles after defeating San Jose on Thursday.
Oilers: After getting routed by Vancouver and putting together a nice third-period rally only to be edged by Dallas, things finally went Edmonton's way in San Jose. The Oilers received a solid goaltending performance from Devan Dubnyk, who turned aside 41 shots. Hall contributed a pair of goals, the final one into an empty net. Ales Hemsky finished with 4 assists. The Oilers built a 3-0 lead after two periods and went on to a 5-2 victory.
"I'm happy with what I'm playing," said Dubnyk, who along with veteran Nikolai Khabibulin makes up Edmonton's goaltending tandem. "Coming in the year, I had no idea. I'm still young and I've still got to earn everything I get, so I'm excited every chance I get to play. I know I say that all the time, but it's true."
Kings: Expectations soared in Los Angeles after the team made it back to the playoffs last spring with an exciting young nucleus of talent, but the Kings have started 2011 in a major funk. They have dropped seven of their last eight games, including six of their last seven on home ice, and slipped to 11th in the West after Thursday's 3-1 loss to the Blues.
"We'll find a way through this together, but not one or two guys is going to do it," forward Ryan Smyth said. "Yes, guys have got to step up and raise their level of play, for sure, but it's going to be with everybody in this locker room.
"Everybody wants to win. There's a sense of urgency and a winning attitude, but it's finding it and playing with confidence and building one period or one shift at a time to carry forth into the next and then into the game situations when you're winning."
Who's Hot: Hemsky has 5 goals and 17 points in his last 12 games to tie Dustin Penner for the Oilers' scoring lead with 28 points, though injuries have limited him to 13 fewer games. Dubnyk has allowed two goals or fewer in four of his last five starts, going 2-1-2 in that span. … Michal Handzus has goals in consecutive games and a three-game points streak going for the Kings. Smyth has 6 goals and 3 assists in his last eight games.
Injury Report: Edmonton forward Gilbert Brule (abdomen/ankle) and defenseman Jim Vandermeer (ankle) are day-to-day. Forwards Shawn Horcoff (knee) and Jordan Eberle (ankle/appendectomy) and defenseman Ryan Whitney (ankle) are on injured reserve. … Los Angeles forward Scott Parse is on injured reserve following hip surgery.
Stat Pack: The Oilers had gone 42 days between road victories prior to Thursday, dating back to a Dec. 2 win over the Maple Leafs in Toronto. … The Kings' reunited top line of Anze Kopitar, Williams and Smyth combined for 10 shots against the Blues but were held without a point.
Puck Drop: Los Angeles will sport the same vintage jerseys it wore on opening night and also pay tribute to former standout goaltender Rogie Vachon prior to the game. Vachon is the franchise's all-time leader in games (389), wins (171) and shutouts (32), and was the first Kings player to have his number retired.
-- Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer