The outlooks of two teams could not have gone in further opposite directions.
The Kings marched off into the chilled Alberta night Tuesday with a 5-0 win at Rogers Place and star players Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar upright. The Edmonton Oilers fell deeper into gloom in a season slipping fast.
Here’s what we learned:
It takes a freight train to get Doughty off the ice. Dustin Brown labeled Doughty “probably” their best player. That’s heady praise for a team with Kopitar and Jonathan Quick. But Doughty’s sheer competitiveness and joy for the game make that evaluation hold, as seen by his comeback from an illegal hit to the head from Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon.
“I was pretty fortunate I was able to get back out there,” Doughty said.
Doughty, among the NHL leaders in ice time, still logged more than 26 minutes even though he spent time in concussion protocol. His consecutive-games played streak is at 286 — second to Kopitar’s team-record 330. Kopitar came up gingerly from a hit by Milan Lucic but stayed in the game.
The top line got their swagger back. The outcome was already moot but the play by Kopitar to zip the puck to Brown and Brown’s wrist shot for his second goal of the game was a good sign for the Kings. Kopitar and Brown were point-less the previous three games, which represented a slump given the duo’s numbers this season.
Brown passed Wayne Gretzky for seventh on the Kings’ all-time goals list at 247.
The Oilers could see consequences. This was their second straight 5-0 loss and they are 13th in the 15-team Western Conference. That’s untenable for a team that was a popular pick to reach at least the conference finals, and the pressure falls sharply on Edmonton coach Todd McLellan to right the ship.
They might also lose Maroon to supplemental discipline given the dangerous hit-to-the-head play to an unsuspecting Doughty.