SUN Hockey Pool

Royal dose of reality

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Craig MacTavish issued the warning all morning.

Ignore the standings. Don't take a team with Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Alexander Frovlov and Rob Blake lightly or you'll regret it.

"They have plenty of weapons, there's plenty of danger over there," the coach told his troops. "If we're not ready to play early, or we're not sharp, we're going to get the game fed to us."

Well, fellas, how did it taste? Like chicken?

Fitting, because the Oilers laid an egg last night against one of the few teams below them in the standings.

They weren't ready to play early, they weren't sharp and as a result they were forced to swallow a 3-1 loss to the lowly Los Angeles Kings.

"Tough loss," said centre Jarret Stoll. "These are the games we have to win if we're going to make the playoffs.

"We talked about it before the game, try not to have a letdown, come out the same way we did the other night (against Calgary)."

They didn't.

The visitors didn't look at all like the 30th place dregs the standings make them out to be, and peppered Edmonton 13-3 on the shot clock en route to a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.

Four minutes into the second period it was 2-0. Six minutes into the third it was 3-0.

"They came out and put us on our heels in the first period and we weren't able to recover," said winger Dustin Penner. "For whatever reason, maybe it was a letdown after the big win against Calgary, we didn't start very well."

The Kings have been playing somewhat better of late. After an eight-game losing streak in December, they won five of their previous eight going into last night.

"They came out hard and we gave them way too many opportunities, way too much open ice," said Stoll.

"We just weren't smooth, we weren't snapping the puck around like we were on this homestand."

The loss takes some of the shine off what had been a sparkling January. The Oilers were looking to run the table at home before heading east on a five-game swing before the All-Star break, only to cough up what was supposed to be the easiest game of the lot.

Penner, Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky each had a point, but they weren't the dominating trio they were against Calgary, Phoenix, the Islanders and Rangers.

"We can't rely on our one line to score goals," said Stoll.

"We're not going to win very many games playing like that. We have to put a little more pressure on ourselves to score. We were around their zone tonight, but, again, nothing to show for it."

Penner finally broke the Jason LaBarbera shutout midway through the third. By game's end Edmonton had closed the shots to 36-33, but didn't have enough finish to complement the late surge.

"If we'd played the whole game like we did the last two periods it might have been different," said Penner.

The Oilers board a plane today for a tour of the Southeast Division -- Washington, Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Florida.

"It's not the way we want to go on the road," said MacTavish. "But we did a lot of things right during the course of the homestand. We'll go through learning our lesson and be ready to go against Washington."


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