Ol' time hockey for Oilers

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- There was no love lost in this Valentine's Day matinee.

The L.A. Kings and Edmonton Oilers don't share any geographical rivalry, but they went at it like angry neighbours last night.

The two sides hit and fought and trash talked like they owed each other money in Edmonton's 3-2 shootout win at the Staples Center.

Sam Gagner gave away some 35 pounds in a scrap with L.A.'s Jack Johnson in a battle of high-end draft picks; former teammates Matt Green and Ethan Moreau dropped the gloves; Shawn Horcoff traded gloved shots with Jarret Stoll, for taking liberties with Ales Hemsky ...

All in all, a rough and tumble contest from the word go.

"I think it's just the nature of the playoff chase," said L.A.'s Dustin Brown, who got up off the canvas after a devastating Moreau hit to tie the game in the final minute.

"We're fighting for a spot and they were going after some of our players and we went after some their players and that's just the nature of the way the playoff chase is going to be. Especially when they're a couple of points ahead of us - these are games that are going to be emotional games."

And it was.

After Johnson took Gagner down hard in front of the net, Gagner (5-11, 191) came up swinging, and got the worst of it.

"I think I was a little frustrated that I missed the chance," said Gagner. "It was the end of the shift so I was pretty tired. He put me down on the ice and it went from there. I think both of us wanted to go equally. It's not something I'm looking for, if it happens it happens, I guess."

The Oilers, looking for some payback, sent Zack Stortini out to hassle L.A.'s skill guys, so the Kings responded with Raitis Ivavans, who immediately dropped the mitts with Stortini.

Midway through the third period, Brown hit Ladislav Smid from behind and on the same shift Ethan Moreau obliterated Brown with an open ice hit that knocked Brown's helmet, glove and stick flying. That brought a response from former Oiler Matt Greene, who took on Moreau in a brief scrap.

"Brown hit Stevie (Staios), too," said Moreau. "That's the way he plays. But there has to be a time you respond physically, and up front I'm relied upon to do that. If I was in that situation he would have hit me that hard."

The fight with Greene, an ex-teammate, sort of just happened.

"When you get a hit in like that, you don't even look at the puck, you see who's coming after you," said Moreau, who isn't surprised it was Greene. "That's the kind of teammate he is; he's going to stick up for his guy, that's great, that's what the game is all about. You stick up for yourself and you stick up for your teammates. No complaints about the fight at all."

MacTavish knew there would be fireworks after the Moreau hit, which will stand as one of the year's best.

"You know Matt Greene is not looking at faces and numbers in those situations," said MacTavish. "He's a warrior, as is Ethan. It was a good, clean, solid hit, but he's a guy who's going to back up those plays and drop the gloves if he needs to."

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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