Kings Inch Closer To Division Title After 2-0 Win Over Oilers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jonathan Quick made 19 saves in his NHL-leading 10th shutout, Slava Voynov scored in the opening minute of the third period, and the Los Angeles Kings moved closer to their second division title in franchise history with a 2-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night.
Dwight King also scored with 2:32 to play for the Kings, who began a frantic final week in the Pacific Division by earning their 93rd point and opening a two-point lead over Phoenix (91), which sits seventh in the Western Conference. San Jose (90) and Dallas (89) also are in an impossibly tight race for the division crown and three playoff spots.
The Kings began the day in first place on a tiebreaker with Phoenix.
Los Angeles, which has won eight of 11, could clinch its first division title in 21 years with two regulation wins over San Jose in a home-and-home series starting Thursday — or the Kings could miss the playoffs.
Devan Dubnyk stopped 35 shots for the Oilers, who will miss the postseason for the sixth straight year. Edmonton lost to Los Angeles for the second time in four days, but definitely made the Kings work for a vital victory.
The Oilers couldn’t solve Quick, who added another superlative game to his landmark season by extending his franchise record for shutouts. The All-Star, who has 24 career shutouts, has allowed just two goals in four starts, carrying the Kings down the stretch toward their third straight playoff berth.
After two scoreless, frustrating periods, the Kings scored when Anze Kopitar collected the puck behind the net and found Voynov for a one-timer that got under Dubnyk’s arm 34 seconds into the third. Voynov is the precocious Russian rookie defenseman whose emergence allowed the Kings to trade Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter.
Los Angeles then killed a four-minute advantage for the NHL’s second-best power play, but Mike Richards fed King for the late insurance goal.
A division title doesn’t mean much to Detroit, Vancouver or the West’s other perennial powers, but it would be uncommonly significant for the Kings, who have little to show for 4½ decades of hockey.
The Kings joined the NHL in 1967 in the Second Six expansion, yet they won just one division title in their first 43 seasons. Los Angeles won the Smythe Division in 1990-91 during a 163-point season by Wayne Gretzky, but the Kings’ 1992-93 conference title banner is the only other trophy hanging at Staples Center.
The Kings returned home after taking five points during a brutal four-game, six-day road trip that included back-to-backs in Edmonton and Minnesota, with a 3:45 a.m. flight arrival in the Twin Cities before a shootout loss on Saturday.
Carter missed his third straight game with a deep bone bruise in his ankle. Carter has nine points in 16 games since Los Angeles acquired him from Columbus.
NOTES: LW Ryan Smyth, who demanded a trade from the contending Kings back to the rebuilding Oilers in the offseason, has played in every game for Edmonton this season. He has 46 points this season after scoring 47 while playing in all 82 games for Los Angeles last season. … Edmonton knocked Gretzky’s Kings out of the 1991 playoffs. … The Oilers return home Thursday against Anaheim, which lost to Edmonton on Sunday. … David Beckham attended the game.