In fact, the Kings were a last place team that had played the night before and lost 4-2 to the Canucks. They were also a club that started its (3rd string) goaltender on back-to-back nights, a tactic that almost always backfires. Almost.
eval(ez_write_tag([[728,90],thehockeywriters_com-box-3,ezslot_1]));Chris Johnston of Sportsnet revisited the William Nylander contract situation — something NHL media will do often now considering there are only five days remaining to sign Nylander before hes ineligible to play in the NHL this season. He reports the clock is ticking but that a six-year deal remains possible, with the Nylander camp perhaps willing to accept something around $6.9 million per season. Former NHL player Marc Sarvard said as much on Twitter the other day and he seemed pretty confident that the same number would get Nylander in a Toronto uniform.
There were times when it appeared as if the Oilers were about to pull away from L.A.. The opportunities were there. But each time something impeded them…most notably (and oddly) a delay-of-game penalty taken by Oscar Klefbom with his team ahead 2-1. The Kings scored the 2-2 on the resulting Power Play, and to my eye…Edmonton never recovered. A handful of loud, ugly mistakes took their toll from there on in.
The Oilers lost both special teams battles: The Kings were 2-for-5 on the PP, the Oilers 1-for-3 on their opportunities. I also had a real problem with how this game was refereed tonight. But as I did not think it cost the Oilers the game, I’ll leave it until after the Grades.
CAM TALBOT. 5. Has now lost a career-high 6 games in a row. He deserved better. In fact it was Cam Talbot’s play in the 1st Period that turned back an early Kings push. That included pulling one puck off the goal line, and making a big stop on an L.A. 2-on-1 for another. Talbot eventually stopped 27 of 30 (there were 2 empty-netters). I don’t have him down as “to blame” on any of the 3 that he allowed. It is fair to say that the King’s Cal Petersen was one save better than Talbot was. But the loss was hardly on the Oilers goaltender.
CONNOR McDAVID. 6. The harsh reality of this evening was that Connor McDavid was not the best player on the ice this evening. Anze Kopitar was. And usually when that happens, you don’t win the game. McDavid assisted on the 1st Chiasson goal by getting the puck in front with net front-presence in the person of #39. Had 4 shots on net and was 56% in the face-off circle in 24:27. But also finished the night -2. Took a ticky-tack penalty as the team was trying to get Talbot out for the extra attacker late. More on that in a minute…
Meanwhile, Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star believes the Maple Leafs have backup plans in place if a deal cant get done. He speculates the Leafs have something brewing with the Carolina Hurricanes that could include high-end defensemen such as Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk, and/or Dougie Hamilton. So too, they may have something cooking with Anaheim Ducks blueliners Brandon Montour.
RYAN SPOONER. 5. Ryan Spooner showed a touch more in the game tonight than he has since arriving in Edmonton. Spooner has the requisite foot-speed to play alongside 97. And certainly the Oilers owned the play when this unit was on the ice (Spooner had a CF% of 64% to lead the team). But couldn’t manage a shot on net. Was much better defensively that in his earlier outings, displaying an above-average stick. Jury is still out, though.
I wanted responsibility for his development, Hitchcock said (via Oilers Jack Michaels). I didnt just want to be watching him play in AHL. I feel this is the type of player we need to win in the Western Conference. I asked (general manager Peter Chiarelli) if hed bring him up for practice today.
LEON DRAISAITL. 5. You have to say that Leon had a rough night even though his line carried the bulk of the play while he was on the ice. Ended up -2 with just a single shot on net despite a massive 24:24 of TOI. A give-away in the 1st Period forced Kris Russell to come up big and bail him out. Fanned on a net-side chance on a 3rd Period Power Play that would have drawn the game even at 3. Just 44% in the face-off circle. A physical play along the wall on Kopitar allowed Leon to feed Klefbom for a great 1st Period chance. Needed to see more of that from Draisaitl. Not bad. Not great.
OSCAR KLEFBOM. 7. How rare is it for one-half of your top D-pairing be so good yet the other half be so bad? Easily the club’s best defenceman, Klefbom assisted on the 1-1 goal with a pass from high-to-low that allowed McDavid to take the puck to the net where Chiasson buried it. Then drew the primary helped on Chaisson’s 2nd. Klefbom had 8 shots (!) on net, 5 blocks (2 on the same 2nd Period PK) and played an impressive 26:10 in all. Finished up with an eye-opening 35-25 for-and-against for CF% in all occasions (57.23%).
ADAM LARSSON. 3. Adam Larsson was primarily responsible for 2 goals against. The first was the Dustin Brown power play goal where Larsson got puck watching (Larsson never does that, it was confounding) and let the King forward slip behind coverage and then slam it home. Then, Larsson got caught on the end of a long shift where Kopitar blew right past him and beat Talbot short-side. Three give-away’s. Not near good enough from your top-pairing guy.
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 6. Assisted on the 2nd Chiasson goal with some heady play in the O-zone. In fact Nugent-Hopkins’ play in the Kings end was dogged all night long, making sharp turns and deft little passed to keep pucks alive. Had 2 shots of his own. Played a bunch on special teams: 3:04 on the Power Play, 3:10 short-handed. Was one of the players who lost track of Brown on the 2-2, but it wasn’t his man.
If it doesnt look like a deal can be done, they might trade him to a club more willing to meet his demands. The Leafs have three regulars on defence playing in the last year of their contracts: Jake Gardiner, Igor Ozhiganov and Ron Hainsey. So, blue-line help would be a key to any swap.
DRAKE CAGGIULA. 3. The knock on Drake Caggiula has been a lack of consistency. And that old bugaboo showed up tonight. Caggiula was M.I.A. over the first 40 minutes of the game. He was easily bumped off pucks. Was often a half-step late to others. Only managed one shot on net. And he was partially responsible on the 3-2 goal when he lost an offensive zone puck battle that was converted into an odd-man rush.
ALEX CHIASSON. 7. Was tremendous. Alex Chiasson has now scored more goals (10) 23 games into the regular season than he did all of last year in Washington. Had both of the Oilers markers this evening. Both were gritty net-front efforts. The first was on the power play when he stuffed home his own deflection. Then he beat Jake Muzzin to a loose puck at the top of the slot for the 2-1. Gave up next to nothing defensively. At some point, you have to wonder if Chiasson earns some McDavid time 5×5.
DARNELL NURSE. 4. The Nurse-Russell pairing lost the possession battle on the night. Nurse was partially responsible for the 1-0 when he failed to intercept the pass across to Brown, after Kopitar had walked Wideman. Also had a couple give-away’s. When Darnell Nurse is effective he is staying within himself offensively and playing a hard, physical game in his own zone. Was credited with 0 hits on this night. Speaks volumes.
KRIS RUSSELL. 5.Had one shot on net and another that just went wide but resulted in a near-miss net-side. On defence, while this paring was in chase mode a fair bit, I did not have Kris Russell down for any major errors that resulted in shots against. 2 hits and a block in 20:57. Bailed out Leon Draisaitl after the latter had comitted an ugly give-away in the 1st Period.
KYLE BRODZIAK. 6. Centered the Oilers best line and was one of their better players. Had 4 shots and 3 blocks, as well as some extended minutes of heavy hockey in the opposition zone. Played 13:05, including 1:52 on the PK. Playing his best hockey as an Edmonton Oiler right now.
MILAN LUCIC. 6. To say that Milan Lucic seems re-born is a bit of an exaggeration. After all, he still can’t score. But Lucic’s game is night-and-day better than at any point over the past 100 games. Had 3 shots, a hit, a block. A smart defensive play in the 1st thwarted a Kings opportunity. A won board battle created a chance. Effective.
ZACK KASSIAN. 6. Zack Kassian skated miles, fore-checked with tenacity and cycled the puck with purpose. Kassian had 3 shots. The best opportunity was at the side of the crease after a Lucic fore-check kicked the puck loose. Later worked a puck free and fed Brodziak, who was stoned by Petersen. Has found his game after a bad start.
KEVIN GRAVEL. 4. The 3rd pairing got buried tonight. Gravel’s give-away on the 2nd empty netter was inconsequential. But the puck was headed in the wrong direction almost 2-thirds of the time on his watch. Had a shot and 2 blocks in 11:44. No major errors outside of the one in the dying seconds. But chased a lot.
CHRIS WIDEMAN. 4. Not the way Chris Wideman would have liked to have made his debut: Scorched on the 1-0 when he cheated on the angle he took on Anze Kopitar who made Wideman pay for that dearly by blowing right past him and feeding Dustin Brown for the 1-0. A shot, a hit, -2. Showed some ability to active off the blue-line to keep plays alive. Hope there’s more.
JUJHAR KHAIRA. 4. I suspect that Ken Hitchcock would like to use Khaira on a 4th line that can win softer match-ups, especially when McDavid is double-shifted. However, while Jujhar has a number of redeeming qualities, he is simply not blessed with natural offensive talent…and beat the puck square tonight.
TY RATTIE. 3. Played just 3:32, and was not good when he did. Shot attempts were 1-7 with Rattie on the ice. It’s worth noting that Ken Hitchcock has a long memory, and that his time with Ty Rattie in St. Louis previously did not end well.
JESSE PULJUJARVI. 4. Was invisible in the 1st Period. But slowly made some progress as the game wore on. There wasn’t much in the way of results for Puljujarvi in the end. In the longer view of things, though, tonight may have been an important stepping stone.
The Refs had me shouting at my TV screen a couple of times. Connor McDavid was smacked in the mouth with a stick in front but there was no call. Muzzin pulled McDavid right off his skated behind the Kings net and still no whistle. But then the officials called that ticky-tack elbow on him with less than 2 minutes left? Then, there was the high-stick on Oscar Klefbom that was a penalty…and then suddenly wasn’t. Just brutal officiating. But…I can’t say that’s what cost the Oilers the 2 points.
In the end its a .500 road trip. Normally you take that and go home reasonably satisfied. But I have a hard time believing the club or their coach will think that, though. The record is now 10-11-2. But they are also 2-7-1 in their last 10.
LOS ANGELES — Big games from Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar have been infrequent for the Los Angeles Kings this season. On Sunday, the franchises cornerstone players delivered against the Edmonton Oilers.
Dustin Brown recorded a hat trick, Anze Kopitar scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period and had two assists and the Kings defeated the Oilers 5-2.
“Sometimes it just comes down to players feeling good on certain nights, and I think me and (Kopitar) and (Alex Iafallo) all felt really well going into the game,” Brown said.
Matt Luff also scored and Cal Petersen made 32 saves for the Kings, who snapped a five-game home losing streak.
Alex Chiasson scored twice for the Oilers, who went 1-1-1 during their first road trip under new coach Ken Hitchcock. Connor McDavid had an assist to extend his point streak to six games, and Cam Talbot made 27 saves.
Kopitar put the Kings in front 4:27 into the third period when Derek Forbort sprung the Kings captain for a breakaway with a long pass into the neutral zone. Kopitar used a wrist shot through Talbots legs for his third goal in the last five games.
Brown completed his hat trick at 19:06 with an empty-net goal. Browns fifth career hat trick was the second multi-goal game by a Kings player this season.
Kings coach Willie Desjardins said the top line of Kopitar, Brown and Iafallo has been feeling the pressure as scoring chances had dried up. But that group was vital as the Kings scored more than three goals for the first time since a 4-1 win over Anaheim on Nov. 6, in Desjardins first game in charge.
“They have worked hard and its nice to kind of get the monkey off your back where youre finally scoring a little bit, so it was good to see them get (four),” Desjardins said.
Luff added an empty-netter at 19:33 to extend his scoring streak to four games. He is the fifth Kings rookie to have a scoring streak of at least four games and the first to do it since Jimmy Carson had a goal in seven straight from March 19-30, 1987.
Brown scored on the power play to tie the game at 2-all 4:13 into the second period after Chiasson put Edmonton in front at 2:16.
Chiasson tied it at 1-1 at 13:19 into the first period with his ninth goal of the season. McDavid picked up his 10th point and seventh assist during his point streak.
Chiasson has four goals in his past five games. Hitchcock said he would consider giving Chiasson a chance to play with McDavid on the top line after seeing them connect on Chiassons second power-play goal.
“He doesnt have great foot speed, but hes got great offensive instincts and where hes really good is down low,” Hitchcock said. “He gets himself into great spots. I think we got to consider bouncing him up one notch.”
Brown gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 7:56, tapping in a pass from Kopitar at the back post after they got in behind three Oilers. It was Browns first goal since Nov. 3 and ended a stretch of eight games without scoring.
Hitchcock viewed his first week with the Oilers as a success and expects the team to make significant strides moving forward.
“Im really excited by the potential,” Hitchcock said. “I know we can get better and I know that its there, but I also know we came in three tough buildings. All their best players, they all got rings, and they were the best players tonight. And we still went at those guys pretty hard, so thats a good sign.”
NOTES: Kings F Carl Hagelin was placed on injured reserve after sustaining a sprained MCL in his knee against Vancouver on Saturday. Hagelin will have an MRI on Monday. … Kings G Jonathan Quick is expected to return during the teams upcoming three-game Canadian road trip, coach Willie Desjardins said. Quick has not played since sustaining a knee injury in practice on Oct. 27 that required surgery.