Against Oilers, Kings Fail to Throw Weight Around


How do the Kings stop the free fall that has dropped them into 10th place in the Western Conference, six points out of a playoff spot?

“Beats me,” Bryan Smolinski said with a big shrug.

Everyone and everything else has been eluding them, so it’s appropriate that a solution to their woes is also beyond their reach.

In another lackluster performance in which they melted at the first sign of adversity, the Kings were routed by the Edmonton Oilers, 5-0, Tuesday before 16,349 at Skyreach Centre. Goaltender Felix Potvin, acquired from Vancouver last Thursday, gave up four goals on the first 13 shots he faced in his King debut and got lamentably little support. He steadied in the third period, but the speedy and determined Oilers, led by goalie Tommy Salo, could not be shaken.


Both teams knew this was a crucial game, and both held meetings Monday. The Kings also had a players-only meeting Tuesday morning. However, only the Oilers talked the talk and skated as if they cared. The Kings were shut out for the second consecutive game and fell six points behind the Oilers and a point behind the ninth-place Nashville Predators.

“At our meeting, everyone talked,” said Oiler center Doug Weight, who ripped a wrist shot past a helpless Potvin at 13:23 of the second period for the fourth goal and scored the final goal off a scramble during a third-period power play.

“The old guys let everyone know how bad it feels to miss the playoffs and to be sent down if you make mistakes. It was healthy. The team responded well. We’ve got a lot of character.”

The Kings, 3-9-1 since Jan. 22, fell below .500 for first time since they were 5-6-2 on Oct. 31. “Is there rock bottom?” Coach Andy Murray asked.

If this isn’t the pits, it must be close.

“We haven’t found an answer yet,” Smolinski said. “I wish I could tell you.”

Murray found a few. He said he asked players to finish checks, go to the net hard, hold up the forwards and keep Weight from being a factor. None of which happened.

“We were doing a number of things well in the first period,” Murray said. “But three of the first four goals, we had the puck on our stick and failed to make a play when we needed to and gave the puck away.”


They trailed by one goal after the first period, a rebound put away by Rem Murray at 12:57 after Potvin made an arm save on Georges Laraque. Potvin couldn’t be faulted on the second goal, scored after Janne Niinimaa intercepted a clearing attempt by King defenseman Mathieu Schneider and took a long shot that was deflected up and over Potvin’s glove at 7:50 of the second period.

Potvin’s culpability on the third goal, scored by Tom Poti as the trailer on a play with Murray, can be argued. But Weight’s two goals weren’t Potvin’s fault. “We did not give him an opportunity to be successful,” Andy Murray said.

Said Potvin: “You get pretty anxious out there. But the first one is under my belt and I’ll get back to a normal practice [today] and get ready for the next game.”

That game, Thursday at Calgary, now becomes their most important because the Flames trail them by two points and have a game in hand. Murray will have to reach deep into his bag of motivational tricks again.