SUN Hockey Pool

Comedy of errors

ROBIN BROWNLEE, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

Even with a healed break and a lucky break that coaxed their power play from its slumber, the Edmonton Oilers couldn't thumb their noses at the Los Angeles Kings last night.

The Oilers got Ryan Smyth back from a broken right thumb after 10 games and turned a gratuitous call by refs Dennis LaRue and Kelly Sutherland into three power-play goals, but the Kings beat 'em 7-4 anyway.

The Kings victimized Edmonton's top-ranked penalty killing for three power-play goals of their own and waltzed through the Oilers' slipshod defence at will, sending their ham-handed hosts to defeat for the sixth time in eight games.

A big thumbs-down.

"That was unbelievable. Just painful to watch," coach Craig MacTavish said after the grisly display.

"It just looked like we couldn't stop them in our own end at times. We're back playing the way we used to pre-lockout ... we were dangerous in both ends tonight, and it ended up costing us."

Smyth took care of his part of the bargain in his warm-and-fuzzy return with a goal and seven shots, but that was cold consolation on a night the Oilers didn't have a clue in their own end and the Kings, who came to town with just four road wins, were clearly the better team.

"We want to throw that one out the door, no question," said Smyth, who logged 19:38 of ice time. "We had the turkey legs and we were playing a pond hockey game there."

Even the largesse of LaRue and Sutherland couldn't save the Oilers, who kissed off a 4-2 lead built on a question-able call as the Kings won it going away with five consecutive goals.

"To get it to 4-2 by taking advantage of an area where we'd struggled of late, it should have been a big positive for us," said Shawn Horcoff. "It's embarrassing. We definitely have to get better."

Trailing 2-1 in the first period, the Oilers caught the break from LaRue and Sutherland that should've put them over the top. Stiffed on a bogus hooking call to Ales Hemsky and assessed the first three minors, the Oilers were the benefactors of a glaring overreaction by the men in stripes.

They assessed Scott Thornton two, five, 10 and a game misconduct for going after Daniel Tjarnqvist after Tjarnqvist pitched him headlong into the boards - putting Edmonton on a seven-minute power play.

Tjarnqvist tied it with 16 seconds remaining in the period when his shot trickled off Mathieu Garon's glove and over the goal line with Smyth giving the L.A. stopper a closeup of his backside.

With the Oilers on a five-on-three thanks to a hooking call to Brent Sopel, Smyth made it 3-2 when he banged a loose puck past Garon.

When Jarret Stoll blew a one-timer past Garon, the Oilers had three power-play goals in 4:32 - as many as they'd scored in their previous nine games - and a two-goal lead. But not for long.

The Kings shook off what could've been a back-breaker with five straight goals, taking a 5-4 lead when Anze Kopitar's pass bounced off Sean Avery's skate and past Dwayne Roloson at 18:01 of the second.

"Our goaltender was one of our better players," MacTavish said of Roloson, who faced 38 shots. "It could have been a lot worse.

"A four-by-six sheet of plywood couldn't have won us the game tonight with the chances we were giving up."

AROUND THE RINK: With Smyth in the fold, the Oilers made J.F. Jacques, Patrick Thoresen and Jan Hejda healthy scratches.


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