(AP) — With two games remaining against one of the worst teams in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings would seem to have a good opportunity to solidify their playoff position.
They weren’t able to capitalize on the Edmonton Oilers’ woes in the first two meetings, however.
The Kings try to avoid losing a third straight to Edmonton on Friday night at Rexall Place.
Los Angeles, Dallas, San Jose and Phoenix are in a heated race for first place in the Pacific Division. For the three teams that don’t end up on top, seventh and eighth place in the Western Conference are well within reach.
The Kings (38-27-12) close the season with a home-and-home series against the Sharks, which will likely have major playoff implications. Before looking too far ahead, though, two of Los Angeles’ next three games come against the Oilers.
Edmonton (31-37-9) has been out of the playoff picture for weeks and has the second-fewest points in the league, but it’s picked up four against the Kings. Los Angeles suffered a 3-0 home loss to the Oilers on Nov. 3 and fell 2-1 at Rexall Place on Jan. 15 as Taylor Hall scored in overtime.
Justin Williams has the lone Kings goal in the series, and Los Angeles, which hosts the Oilers on Monday, enters this contest in a bit of a scoring funk.
The Kings have totaled six goals in their last four games, with one of those scores coming via shootout and another being an empty netter.
Los Angeles managed enough offense against Calgary on Wednesday in avoiding what would have been a third straight loss after a six-game win streak. Willie Mitchell scored in the first period, Dustin Brown scored in the second and Williams added an empty net goal with just over a minute to play in a 3-0 win.
Anze Kopitar, who leads the Kings with 24 goals and 67 points, had two assists for his first points in four games.
That was more than enough for Jonathan Quick, who came up with another outstanding performance with 19 saves.
The shutout was Quick’s second in four games and his team-record ninth of the season, besting the mark set by Rogie Vachon in 1976-77.
“At the end of the day though is it’s two points,” Quick said. “That’s all that matters right now.”
Quick has given the Kings plenty of opportunities to pick up two points on a regular basis, posting a 1.48 goals-against average in his last eight starts while going 6-2-0 in that stretch.
He has given up five total goals in the two games against the Oilers, but a lack of offense has left the Kings without a win. Los Angeles was outshot 60-40 in those contests.
Edmonton is coming off a 3-1 loss to Dallas on Wednesday that snapped a 5-0-2 streak. Ales Hemsky scored his 10th goal and Devan Dubnyk stopped 22 shots for the Oilers, 2-6-1 in their last nine at Rexall.
“This is our home rink and we should be able to set the standard here,” said right wing Jordan Eberle, who leads the Oilers with 32 goals and 73 points. “Teams should be scared to come and play us in here with our speed and puck movement.”
One of the biggest reasons the team is struggling to win at home is lack of power-play production. The Oilers have gone 2 for 23 with the man advantage in their last nine in Edmonton.
Improving on the power play could prove tough against a Los Angeles team that ranks among the league leaders in penalty killing at 88.0 percent. The Kings have killed off 48 of 51 penalties (94.0) in their last 17 games.