November 4, 2011
Oilers shut out Kings
By DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency
LOS ANGELES - The Edmonton Oilers continued their work on an improbable script Thursday.
Journeying through territory that hasn't been explored by the club in over nine years, the Oilers extended their winning streak to six games with an impressive 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
Ryan Smyth, Lennart Petrell and Corey Potter scored for the Oilers in the win, while Nikolai Khabibulin turned away 19 shots to record his second shutout of the season and 45th of his career.
"We don't win this game if we don't pay attention to the little things," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney.
"In the first period we turned the puck over just enough to make it scary. And that's a good team on the other side and they attack well. If you give them a chance to transition, they're going to sting you. We managed the puck well as the game went on, stuck to our game plan and didn't deviate from that.
"When everybody is on the same page and going hard in the same direction and making the little sacrifices to win a hockey game, often times you get those results."
The Oilers have not won six straight since March 2002, during a nine-game undefeated streak in a time before shootouts.
They have a chance to extend their current streak to seven on Saturday in Phoenix against the Coyotes.
Facing a team that is built to contend this season on Thursday, the Oilers were quick out of the blocks and took the play to the Kings in the first period, outshooting their opponents 10-3 in the frame and generating the better chances.
Things shifted slightly in the second as the territorial play evened out, but it was the Oilers who would take the lead.
Smyth opened the scoring in the period as his centring pass was inadvertently deflected past Quick by Kings defenceman Alec Martinez.
Smyth had been drawing a chorus of boos throughout the contest for requesting a trade back to Edmonton this summer.
His goal, the first allowed by Quick at home this season, didn't improve the sentiment of Kings fans towards him.
"It's nice to get the win, that's first and foremost," said Smyth.
"I thought the team dug in and played a gritty game. Obviously Khabby played excellent, shut the door on them. But more or less, right from the outset I thought we did the little things right that made the difference."
Later in the period, Petrell increased the Oilers' lead, taking the puck in front of the net after good work by Ben Eager and lifting a backhand through Quick.
The Kings goaltender was not happy about the goal, as Anton Lander was leaning on him heavily in the crease.
Regardless, the goal, which was not subject to review, counted, giving the Oilers a 2-0 lead heading into the third period.
"It was an amazing feeling to score my first goal," Petrell said. "It was a big goal for us, because there's a big difference going into the second intermission up by two goals instead of one.
"The first goal is going to be something you'll remember for the rest of your life and I'm glad to have it."
The Oilers would increase their lead just over a minute into the third as Potter netted his second of the season.
The Oilers defenceman was able to find the puck after Sam Gagner passed up a quality shooting opportunity to take the puck behind the net and try to center out in front. The play worked out, as Gagner's centring pass hit a skate and sat at the top of the crease, where Potter sliced it in.
From there the Oilers tightened things up defensively, limiting the Kings to their lowest shot total of the season.
"I thought we did a good job keeping shots to the outside. A couple of times they got inside and we got good body position on them so they weren't able to get second and third chances," Renney said. "But goaltending is huge and your team wins and loses starting right there."