The Los Angeles Kings are looking very much like a team that has hit its stride heading down the stretch.
Jeff Carter had two goals and an assist as the Kings stretched their streak to seven wins in a row with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Alec Martinez and Trevor Lewis also scored for the Kings (37-22-6), who are now on their longest win streak since taking nine in a row in 2010.
“It feels good to feel like you are contributing on an individual level, but the most important thing is that we are winning games right now,” Martinez said. “This is the crunch time of the year and we have to be playing playoff hockey. It’s been good to be getting these two points consistently.”
Kings forward Jarret Stoll said the wins don’t always have to be pretty.
“Tonight wasn’t our best game by any means, not even close, but we found a way and just stuck with it,” he said. “We didn’t really have our legs at some points, but you have to find ways to win. Dirty ways, ugly ways, whatever. That’s the biggest thing right now. We are getting timely saves from our goaltenders like we usually get and we are finding goals.”
Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner responded for the Oilers (22-35-8), who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said that the game wasn’t as one-sided as it may have seemed and his team was somewhat the victim of bad luck with two goals going in off of odd deflections.
“I thought our guys were in the battle, they were sticking together, they were playing hard,” he said. “There was no standing around watching them play. We made our mistakes and then they had two goals like that. The first one is a heart-breaker, it’s not a good way to start, it goes off a guy’s foot. That gets you down against a team I consider one of the best in the league.”
Los Angeles was all over Edmonton, outshooting the Oilers 50-27. Gagner tried to downplay the stat.
“If you look at the shot differential you draw conclusions from that, but I didn’t think it was as one sided as the shots suggested,” Gagner said. “I thought it was one of those games where we battled against that team and we held our own physically. We’re obviously not happy with the result, but we have to move forward.”
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick said he felt for his former teammate Ben Scrivens in the Edmonton net, but said his 46-save performance only shows the kind of goalie the Oilers acquired when they traded for him in mid-January.
“He has done it all year, he did it with us too,” he said “I think he is just what this team needed here in Edmonton. He consistently gives you a solid effort and a chance to win every night. We put 50 shots on him and they still had a chance at the end there.
“For a few years now I think it is an area the Oilers needed improvement, not to knock the goalies they had before. The team defence could be better as well. But (Scrivens) has really stepped in since he came here and given them a chance to win every night.”
The Kings got off to a quick start, scoring a gift goal on the game’s first shot 1:36 into the contest as a Carter shot that was going wide hit the skate of defender Philip Larsen and got past a surprised Scrivens in the Oilers net.
Edmonton tied the game seven-and-a-half minutes into the opening period as David Perron made a nifty no-look backhand pass to Hall, who made a move before sending a backhand shot through Quick’s legs. It was Hall’s 22nd goal of the season and 60th point.
Los Angeles outshot Edmonton 12-5 in the first period.
Scrivens continued to be tested, making a huge kick save on a Marian Gaborik blast eight minutes into the second period — the Kings’ 20th shot of the game.
Los Angeles took the lead less than a minute later as a Martinez point shot seemed to hit something in front on its way into the Edmonton net.
Carter got another odd goal midway through the second period as Scrivens blocked an Anze Kopitar shot, but the rebound caromed off of the back of Carter’s leg and in. It was Carter’s 24th goal of the season.
The Kings made it 4-1 with four minutes left in the second as Carter fed a pass to a hard-charging Lewis, who fluttered a shot that Scrivens could only wave his glove at. It was just Lewis’ third goal in 56 games this season.
The shots favoured the Kings 33-19 after 40 minutes.
It was Edmonton’s turn to get a lucky bounce early in the third with the teams playing four players a side. Gagner tried to feed Ryan Smyth at the side of the net, but it hit defender Drew Doughty in front and went into the Kings net to make it 4-2. It was Gagner’s first goal in 16 games.
The Kings conclude a three-game road trip in Calgary on Monday. Edmonton embarks on a four-game trip, starting in Minnesota on Tuesday.
Notes: It was the third of four games this season between the Oilers and Kings. The Kings won the two previous encounters, both played in Los Angeles. The Kings held a 13-1-4 in their past 18 games against Edmonton. ... The Oilers have had their troubles against Pacific Division opponents, coming in with only four wins against them this season, two of those wins coming against Calgary. ... Los Angeles has been a very strong defensive team all season, allowing a league-low 2.05 goals per game. ... Remaining out for the Oilers was defenceman Anton Belov (partially torn oblique). The Kings had no injuries to report.