LOS ANGELES - For the second straight game, the Edmonton Oilers went head-to-head with a Western Conference powerhouse and could not match them on the scoreboard.
Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Slava Voynov -- plus Drew Doughty with an empty-netter -- scored to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-1 win over the Oilers on Saturday afternoon. Magnus Paajarvi scored the lone goal for Edmonton in the loss.
The game did not get off to the start that the Oilers had hoped for. Only 1:38 in, the Kings charged into the Oilers zone and capitalized to take an early 1-0 lead. Mike Richards corralled a pass from Jeff Carter at the left circle and teed up a one-timer past Dubnyk for the goal.
"We definitely dug ourselves a hole right off the bat. We were trying to avoid some kind of chase of a score and we started with a soft play in the second shift of the game and right away we got punished for it," said Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger.
30 seconds later, Ladislav Smid took an elbowing penalty to give the Kings the game's first power play. It was a theme that would occur throughout the game as the Oilers had to kill off five Kings penalties. L.A. went two-for-five on the power play on the day.
"Penalties, again, a bit of a problem. Shorthanded situations, giving L.A. that. They just scored the one five-on-five goal but had numerous opportunies," Krueger continued. "It was our penalty kill that got beat today. We're disappointed, of course. They pushed hard, they battled hard. We couldn't create the offence we would have liked to and never really found our rhythm here today."
Shortly after the Smid penalty expired, Carter got sent off for high sticking to put the Oilers up a man and a chance to pull on even terms but Edmonton was also unable to generate much in the way of opportunity on the five-on-four.
"In front of both nets they're one of the best teams in the league," Krueger added. "That's why they're the Stanley Cup Champions and I think it's really a measuring stick that we're looking at to try and compete even harder against teams like this. There were phases where we had a semblance of the game going that we wanted to see but we couldn't sustain it."
Sam Gagner echoed his coach's comments regarding staying out of the penalty box.
“Discipline is a huge factor. LA is a good team. They are a hard team to beat when you are undisciplined and taking penalties. For us it’s about finding ways to raise our level. These are important games. These are games you want to be a part of down the stretch, fighting for your playoff lives. These games are more intense and we have to raise our level pretty quick.
Just before the period's midway point, the Kings nearly doubled their lead. The puck went off Jeff Petry during a mad scramble in front of the Oilers net and rang off the post.
A Kyle Clifford interference penalty sent the Oilers back on the power play about a minute later but again Edmonton wasn't able to convert.
With 5:27 to play in the first, Jordan Eberle got two minutes for hooking to give Los Angeles its second man advantage of the afternoon and this time they capitalized.
Carter redirected a feed from Dustin Brown past Dubnyk from the top of the crease to put the home team up 2-0.
With 1:22 to play in the first, Mike Brown got his stick under Jake Muzzin as the Kings defenceman tried to carry the puck deeper into the Oilers zone and received two for tripping for his efforts, giving the Kings their third power play of the game.
Shots on goal after one period were 9 to 7 for Edmonton.
After the Oilers killed off the Brown penalty, Clifford took his second two-minute minor of the game to give Edmonton its third power play and this time the Oilers were able to convert.
Magnus Paajarvi picked up a loose puck at the side of the net with Jonathan Quick out of position after Nail Yakupov had an in-close opportunity. Paajarvi made no mistake, depositing the puck into the open cage to draw the Oilers within a goal.
"I thought we had a better second than the first. Penalties killed us for sure. We didn't match their intensity and we've got to do that to even give us a chance to win," said Paajarvi. "They won the Stanley Cup and they were ready for it. We haven't been there for awhile so we'd better be ready for (a game like this)."
The Kings started to pick up momentum again after the goal with some sustained pressure in the Edmonton end. The result was a penalty to Jeff Petry for hooking and another Kings power play goal.
Slava Voynov teed up a shot from the point that beat a screened Devan Dubnyk to extend the Kings' lead to 3-1.
Kings held a wide margin in shots in the second period, 17 to 5 over the Oilers. In the entire game after 40 minutes, Kings were outshooting the Oilers 24 to 14.
Drew Doughty took a hooking penalty just prior to the midway point of the third to give the Oilers a power play with a chance to draw back within a goal as time ticked away in the final frame. Unfortunately, the best scoring chance during the man advantage went to the Kings as Mike Richards was robbed by Devan Dubnyk off the rush on a two-on-one right at the side of the net.
The stop was the third big one for Dubnyk in the past 90 seconds of game action as he did everything he could to keep his team in it.
A late Ryan Smyth penalty quelled any momentum the Oilers may have been able to muster up.