Oilers shoot blanks in L.A.

Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk looks to stop the puck, while Kings forward Trevor Lewis looks for a...

Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk looks to stop the puck, while Kings forward Trevor Lewis looks for a rebound and Oilers forward Ryan Smyth defends at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., April 2, 2012. (DANNY MOLOSHOK/Reuters)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:56 AM ET

LOS ANGELES - The Edmonton Oilers are starting to wonder if the referees are basing their decisions on the standings, not the game.

Monday night in Los Angeles, in what has become a recurring and rather disturbing scene, the Oilers seemed to be playing in a contest with two sets of rules — one for a playoff team and one for a lottery team.

And the lottery team got the short end of the stick, getting no respect from Tim Peel and Mike Leggo in a 2-0 loss.

“Maybe they (the NHL), needs Hollywood in the playoffs,” said head coach Tom Renney. “I’m not sure.”

It’s not just the Kings who’ve been getting the calls against Edmonton. It’s everyone else.

For the 11th time in the last 20 games, the Oilers were given one or fewer power plays. By comparison, only twice in the last 20 games have their opponents been limited to one or fewer power plays.

Only once in the last 20 games have the Oilers been given more power play chances than their opponents.

Is it because they were playing terribly? Hard to say that when they were 8-9-3 in that span.

Monday night there were too many calls and non-calls to mention. There was Shawn Horcoff getting his stick slashed in half in front of the LA net, which is supposed to be an automatic penalty — no call. Devan Dubnyk tripped behind the net, another automatic, no call. Colten Teubert’s diving poke-check that was all puck, flagged for tripping by a referee 50 feet away.

“It’s tough sledding out there,” said Renney. “We had to kill a couple too many penalties.”

While they’re having trouble drawing penalties themselves. Or, at least, getting them called.

“I would go with the latter,” said Renney.

“It’s tough to say what’s happening,” said Sam Gagner. “At first you want to say can we do more to draw penalties by causing teams to haul us down or driving pucks to the net... but it’s tough to do at this level.”

The other trend this season is Devan Dubnyk.

The Edmonton keeper has been their best player down the stretch, winning 10 of his last 15 games on the 28th-place team in the NHL, and he was at it again Monday.

He was a one-man army at the Staples Centre, but could only fend off the Kings for so long — 28 shots, to be exact, before LA scored the only goal they’d need in a 2-0 victory.

“He’s been outstanding for us all year,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “And again tonight.”

The Oilers, with four of their defencemen out with injuries, were peppered with 27 shots in the first 40 minutes alone, but Dubnyk still kept it scoreless going into the third period.

The Kings finally broke through in the first shot of the third period, a one-timer from Slava Voynov just 34 seconds in.

“I think you’re seeing a goaltender grow,” said head coach Tom Renney. “Much like our team it requires opportunity and challenge and at the end of the day you have to answer the bell.

“I think you’re seeing a young fella really trying to grab this opportunity and run with it. The arrow continues to point up for him.”

HAIRY POTTER: Defenceman Corey Potter, after being crushed by Bobby Ryan in Anaheim, sat out Monday’s tilt with concussion symptoms. He felt OK during the game, but the symptoms set in when things cooled down.

“T.D. (Forss) checked with him a number of times on the bench and he was adamant that he was good to go and capable of playing,” said Renney. “When things settle down, often times that’s what happens, speaking from experience. That’s when you go, ‘Wait a second.’”

LATE HITS: Taylor Hall is in Cleveland where he’ll undergo shoulder surgery Tuesday … Ales Hemsky, who left the Anaheim game in the second period, took the pre-game skate and pronounced himself fit to play. He did leave the game briefly in the first period, but returned.

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ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@Sunmedia.ca


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