The Kings face a critical stretch of road games in Canada, starting with rival Edmonton – Daily News

The Kings face a critical stretch of road games in Canada, starting with rival Edmonton – Daily News

Kings goaltender David Rittich, center, celebrates with defenseman Brand Clark after blocking a shot by Ducks left wing Alex Killorn to end a shootout in an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

After winning the Freeway Faceoff coin toss, the Kings headed to Western Canada for three games in four nights that they couldn’t afford to leave to chance.

They are tied for points with Monday’s opponent, the same Edmonton Oilers who eliminated them in back-to-back postseasons and who own the tiebreaker as well as a game in hand. They will move to Calgary to face the Flames on Tuesday and eventually Vancouver on Thursday for the first of four meetings in five weeks with the division-leading Canucks.

Heading into the All-Star break, the Kings and Oilers were going in opposite directions, with the Kings losing 14 of 17 games and Edmonton taking 16 in a row. Since returning to action, however, the Kings have posted a 6-2-0 mark, while the Oilers have gone 4-5-1.

“At the moment, every point counts. We dug ourselves into a bit of a hole there in January so we have to take every win we can get now,” Kings defenseman Matt Roy said after a 3-2 shootout win over the Ducks on Saturday.

The Kings didn’t allow any shutout goals against the Ducks, but didn’t score any over 125 minutes. Drew Doughty’s garbage score against Columbus gave way to two full scrimmages and overtimes in which the Kings scored three powerplay goals (including two by Kevin Fiala, who has the go-ahead marker in three straight appearances), but none even on the power play.

“It’s approaching [the] playoffs, I think the 5-on-5 game is going to be huge,” said Roy, who played mostly with Brand Clark after Mikey Anderson’s week-to-week injury shuffled defenses. “If we can minimize that, take some of our own 5-on-5 and let our special teams do their job, I think that will help us a lot.”

The playoffs are always in focus when the Kings and Oilers meet, given that Edmonton has sent the Kings home in back-to-back campaigns. They have split two meetings so far this season, while both clubs have seen heightened expectations tempered by banter that led to coaching changes.

Although Edmonton is currently reeling through a stretch that has seen him play .450 hockey since the break, captain Connor McDavid remains prolific. He has recorded four straight multi-point performances and has done so in seven of his last 10 games, including a six-assist outburst against the Detroit Red Wings.

McDavid’s teammate, Zach Hymon, tied for third in the NHL in goals (37) on Sunday, riding a four-goal streak that saw him find the net five times. Hyman was close friends with the Kings’ leading scorer, Trevor Moore, when they were together in the Toronto Maple Leafs system. Moore extended his goal drought to 12 games but scored decisively in the shootout on Saturday.

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