EDMONTON, Canada — Records, refining and an imminent retirement.
The three Rs marked the Kings' final regular-season road game as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 3-0, on Thursday night at Rextall Place behind Marian Gaborik's three-point effort and the fourth shutout of the season for rookie goalie Martin Jones.
Records were matched and others broken with the Kings' late-season tour of the also-rans in the Pacific Division ending, thankfully, as did their three-game losing streak. The Kings, refining their game for first-round playoff round against the San Jose Sharks, outshot the hapless Oilers, 48-17, including 23-3 in the third period. They also played back-to-back games without being penalized, believed to be a franchise first.
Oilers icon Ryan Smyth, who played two seasons for the Kings, is expected to announce his retirement at news conference on Friday.
For the Kings, Jones, Gaborik and Anze Kopitar shared the spotlight as they recorded their 46th win of the season, tying a franchise record. Gaborik factored in all three Kings' goals, scoring twice and assisting on Kopitar's goal 27 seconds into the game.
“After coming off a bad start last night [in Calgary] we talked about how we had to be ready to play,” Gaborik said. “We did and got up 1-0 quickly. That helped us and Jonesy made several big saves and I thought we controlled the game the whole 60 minutes.”
Gaborik, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Columbus, has a nine-game point streak going after his first three-point game since he joined the Kings.
It was Kopitar's 200th career goal and proved to be the game-winner. He has had nine game-winning goals this season, tying franchise luminaries Marcel Dionne and Charlie Simmer, who both accomplished the feat in the 1980-81 season.
If this is the final appearance of the season for Jones, he finished on a high note, recording his 12th win of the season . He didn't have much work in the first period, facing four shots.
Kings defensemen Drew Doughty and Robyn Regehr, both injured, did not play against Edmonton. The Oilers were using only 11 forwards and dropped to 10 when Sam Gagner left the game with an ankle injury.
Jones was up to the test when Edmonton eventually mustered some pushback. His highlight moment of the game came in the early minutes of the second period when he denied Taylor Hall with the Kings leading, 2-0.
“The guy [David Perron] had a partial break there,” Jones said. ‘I thought he was going to shoot off the original move there. He had pretty good patience, taking it around the net and make the play. I just tried to throw anything I could, take away some net. I got a little lucky there.”
Experience with the Kings has helped him stay focused when action is sporadic.
“When you play on a team like this, those are things you've got to work through and stay sharp,” Jones said. “I may not get a lot of work when we carry a lot of the play, but I'm used to it a little bit.”
There are few areas of remaining suspense for the Kings. They have never won the William M. Jennings Trophy, given to the goalie or goalies who played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals allowed. They are leading in the waning days of the season with the only threat being the Boston Bruins.
If the Kings give up two goals or fewer Saturday in their regular-season finale, against the Ducks, the Bruins won't be able to catch them.