Kings’ 3-1 victory over Oilers is a dirty, pretty thing
EDMONTON, Canada — When finesse won’t produce goals — and it hasn’t been a reliable tool for the low-scoring Kings this season — there’s only one way to go.
“We talked about getting ugly ones,” center Colin Fraser said. “You’ve got to get to the net to do it.”
Fraser, restored to the lineup after being scratched the previous four games, led the way against the Oilers on Tuesday night by anchoring the fourth line and aggressively going to the net for a goal that was a thing of beauty for the Kings.
Fraser scored their first goal and his first of the season, Jeff Carter scored the go-ahead goal on an almost accidental tip of a long shot by fourth-liner Trevor Lewis with 49.6 seconds left in the third period, and Jarret Stoll scored into an empty net as the Kings held off the promising but not-quite-there-yet Oilers, 3-1, at Rexall Place.
“Nobody wants to sit but we’ve got a deep team. We’ve got lots of depth,” Fraser said. “We’ve been trying to find the right combo right now to get some wins. Obviously, it was nice to score when you’ve been sitting out four games.”
Vulnerable early in the game to the Oilers’ remarkable speed, the Kings regrouped and took the initiative in the second and third periods in winning for the third time in four games. They vaulted from 14th to 12th in the West, three points behind eighth-place Dallas but with two games in hand.
It wasn’t pretty and it took patience, but the Kings began to win battles along the boards and put the body on the Oilers — much the same formula they used so successfully last season.
“They play a lot like Chicago. Make turnovers, and they’re gone. Their forwards are blowing the zone,” Carter said of the Oilers. “I think once we got our turnovers cut down and got pucks behind their defense, it kind of takes away from their game a little bit.
“We just stuck with it.”
Fraser, who was dealt by the Oilers to the Kings in the Ryan Smyth trade in the summer of 2011, capitalized Tuesday on the chance to play again. Winger Jordan Nolan pounced on the puck in the neutral zone and carried it into Edmonton’s end. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin stopped Nolan’s shot but couldn’t control the rebound, and it bounced in front. Lewis got a stick on it before Fraser jabbed it in at 4:44 of the second period.
“With our line, we know we’ve got to work hard to score goals and we knew we were going to have to get an ugly one,” Lewis said. “I was just trying to go to the net and Frazz made a good shot to get it up over him. It was nice to get a bounce.”
The Oilers pulled even during a power play, at 16:50 of the second period, when Sam Gagner’s long shot was deflected past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. That was the only shot among Edmonton’s 24 that eluded him.
The game remained tied until the final minute of the third period, when Carter redirected Lewis’ shot.
“I didn’t even try to tip it. I was just going to the net and it hit the blade of my stick,” said Carter, who increased his team-leading goal total to seven.
“It was a great play by him to drive wide. I was just trying to drive the net and create some confusion in front of the net and it hit me.”
Ugly, maybe, but it was a welcome sight for the Kings, who got an insurance goal from Stoll with 21.3 seconds left.
“That’s kind of what we’re built for and we did that well tonight,” Quick said of his teammates’ gritty game.
And they’ll have to do it again Wednesday in Calgary.
“I think we played a pretty solid road game,” Lewis said. “We can’t dwell on it too much, though. We’ve got a big one [Wednesday] night and we’ve got to get another road win.”
A few more ugly goals just might produce a few more beautiful results.
When: 7 PST.
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome
On the Air: TV: FS West; Radio: 1150.
Records: Kings 6-6-2, Flames 5-6-3.
Record vs. Flames (2011-12): 2-1-1.
Update: The Flames lead the NHL in a dubious category: Most goaltenders used — four. With Miikka Kiprusoff out because of a knee injury, they claimed Joey MacDonald off waivers and have thrown Leland Irving in net six times and Daniel Taylor once.
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