The Los Angeles Kings weren’t about to let another game get away from them in Edmonton this season.
Jeff Carter scored the winner with just 49.6 seconds remaining in regulation Tuesday as the Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1.
After the Oilers turned the puck over at the Kings’ blue-line, Carter beat Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin through the legs with a quick shot.
Los Angeles then put the game away with an empty-net goal by Jarret Stoll.
“Obviously we didn’t want it to take that long,” Carter said of the late goal. “It’s just one of those games, Khabibulin was playing well. We were getting shots, but he was making saves. It’s never easy in this building, but you have to stick with it for 60, 65 minutes, whatever it takes.”
The Kings were relieved to walk away with the two points after a meeting in the Alberta capital last month that saw the Oilers score with five seconds left in regulation to tie it — and included Oilers rookie Nail Yakupov’s sliding goal celebration — before Edmonton won in overtime.
“It was really nice to have it go the other way this time around,” Stoll said. “We came here for the two points and this time we got them. We stuck with it for all of the game and played the right way and deserved the win. Now we just have to get a strong of wins together and become a bit more consistent overall.”
Colin Fraser also scored for the Kings (6-6-2), who have won three of their last four games. Jonathan Quick finished with 23 saves get the win.
“Quicky always makes some big saves for us, that’s just Quicky,” said Kings defenceman Drew Doughty. “He was great, I think he made something like three breakaway saves and that’s huge. If those go in, it’s a completely different game and we probably don’t win it.”
Sam Gagner replied for the Oilers (6-6-3), who have lost two of their last three, all at home.
“It’s frustrating to lose a game in the last minute,” said Khabibulin, who stopped 35 shots in taking the loss. “They were a more organized team than us tonight, it seemed.”
Oilers head coach Ralph Krueger said the two points were there for the taking.
“Even though the shot clock didn’t show it, we outchanced them quite a bit,” he said. “We just couldn’t generate the type of offence we would have liked to down the stretch. The bounce at the end was of course, painful. If you look at the game, I think going to overtime and splitting this up would have been probably the right result, but we have to take it. We missed an opportunity to play our game the whole way. It’s a bounce we have to swallow.”
Edmonton had the best chances in the early going as Taylor Hall dropped a pass to Jordan Eberle three minutes in but he hit the post behind Quick. A minute later, Quick was forced to come up with a big toe save on another solid opportunity for Hall.
The Kings took a 1-0 lead at 4:44 of the second period. Khabibulin made a save on a long shot by Jordan Nolan, but the Oilers were unable to clear the rebound as Fraser swooped in for his first of the season.
Los Angeles held the bulk of the momentum in the period, at one point outshooting Edmonton 13-1, but the Oilers fought back to tie things up.
Seconds after Khabibulin made a diving save after an odd bounce off the boards, Edmonton connected on the power play as a Gagner shot beat a screened Quick at 16:50.
Edmonton once again had a glorious chance denied three minutes into the third as Quick stoned Hall point blank on a shot from the top of the crease.
The Kings conclude a three-game road trip in Calgary on Wednesday. The Oilers play the fourth game of a five-game homestand on Thursday against Minnesota before heading out on a nine-game road swing.
Notes: It was the second of three games between the two teams this season. ... Los Angeles came into the game having scored the fewest goals of any team this season with 30 in 13 games played. ... Khabibulin made just his second start in the Edmonton net this season after coming in to start the second and earning his first win in over a year in the Oilers’ dramatic come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. ... Kings defencemen Alec Martinez (upper body) and Willie Mitchell (knee) remained out for L.A. and are day-to-day, while Matt Greene (back) is out indefinitely. ... Teemu Hartikainen was back in the lineup for the Oilers, while Lennart Petrell (head) and Ryan Jones (eye) are day-to-day. Anton Lander (foot) and Andy Sutton (knee) are out indefinitely. ... Former Oilers forward Dustin Penner played in just his seventh game of the season for the Kings.