EDMONTON - Jeff Carter scored the go-ahead goal with 50 seconds to play, while ex-Oiler Jarret Stoll added an empty-netter 28 seconds later as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Oilers 2-1 Tuesday night at Rexall Place.
Remember all that progress from Saturday night's effort against the Colorado Avalanche? Well, it seems 2012-13 is still a work in progress.
"They played better than us," said Taylor Hall, who picked up an assist on Sam Gagner's second-period goal. "They got pucks deep and made us play in our own end. That's exactly what we want to do to other teams and we didn't do it."
With the game locked in a 1-1 tie, Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle rushed up ice on a dangerous-looking 3-on-2. The rush was derailed, however, as the puck got tangled up in the feet of linesman Thor Nelson at the blue line. The Kings burst back the other way with numbers of their own and Trevor Lewis' long-range wrist shot was redirected ever-so-slightly by Carter en route for the game-winner.
"I've never been a linesman in my life," admitted Hall. "I'm sure he didn't mean to get in the way. It's one of those things you've got to deal with. There are two linesman and two referees on the ice and you have to maneuver around them.
"It's a tough break, especially on the last goal."
Nikolai Khabibulin wasn't caught up in the blame game. He wanted the shot back. In all, the veteran stopped 35 of the 37 shots he faced.
"It's frustrating to lose in the last minute," he said. "They did to us what we did to them last game."
"It's unfortunate," added Gagner. "That's going to happen at times in games. It'll happen for our benefit at times as well. If we take that Colorado game as a template, that's probably not even an issue at the end."
It wasn't through 20 minutes. The Oilers started well and had peppered Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with a number of high-quality scoring chances early.
It was 0-0 after one, however.
Colin Fraser put Los Angeles up 1-0 at 4:44 of the second. The ex-Oiler escaped the check of Nick Schultz at the doorstep, collected a Jordan Nolan rebound and popped it up and over Khabibulin on his club's 15th shot.
The Oilers led 9-8 in shots after one, but the Kings went on a 13-1 run to the start the second. Due in large part to Khabibulin, the Oilers survived and went on the attack late in the period.
Penalties to Jeff Carter (hooking) and Davis Drewiske (delay of game - puck over the glass) gave the Oilers a 37-second 5-on-3. Early in the power-play, Los Angeles defenceman Drew Doughty cleared the puck the length of the ice and nearly put the Kings up 2-0. The puck careened off a stanchion along the sideboards and made a beeline for the empty net as Khabibulin was out to play it. The 40-year-old veteran, quick as ever, lunged back and saved the day with a heroic paddle save to keep the score at 1-0.
Just seconds later and now in a 5-on-4 situation as Carter's infraction expired, Gagner collected a drop pass from Hall and wired a wrist shot that deflected off Carter's stick and past Quick for the equalizer at 16:50.
"The shot clock didn't show it, but we out-chanced them quite a bit," said Head Coach Ralph Krueger. "We couldn't generate the offence we would have liked. Down the stretch we weren't able to generate anything. They wanted to slow the pace and have a more controlled game.
"They were sitting back, playing very safe and waiting for us to make errors. We've had leads that have turned, we've been behind quite often also without any fear of it. We came back well, but it's disappointing to lose it the way we did.
"There were points on the table and we expected to get a least one tonight."
Near the seven-minute mark of the third, Khabibulin came up with a pair of sensational left pad saves, denying Drewiske and Trevor Lewis in the slot.
Lewis got his revenge, though. It was at 19:10 when he connected with Carter to give the Kings the lead.
"The bounce at the end was painful," said Krueger. "In the end, it's a bounce that we have to swallow and learn from again."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick