Despite missing several of their top players, the Los Angeles Kings are playing well and challenging for a playoff spot.
They’ll face a difficult test in that quest when they open a seven-game road trip Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers.
“It was a gratifying tie,” Kings coach Andy Murray said. “Our penalty killing stepped up for us tonight and we were able to get a couple of power-play goals, too.”
Palffy is also out for the season following shoulder surgery and Straka is sidelined with a sprained knee.
“If Marty Straka does return, it will probably be late March or early April, but we’d have to be in the playoff position we want so badly for him to come back and play,” Murray said.
Thursday’s tie moved the Kings to 2-0-2 in their last four games, leaving them with just one regulation loss in 11 games (4-1-5-1).
This will be the 16th road trip of seven or more game since 1991 for the Kings, who have had a winning record in only one of the previous 15.
Edmonton, in danger of falling out of the playoff race in the Western Conference, stopped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over Chicago on Thursday.
“It was an important game for us. I don’t think it was the best game we played, but we won the game,” said Salo.
While the Oilers were desperate for two points, even better news came with the return of captain Jason Smith, who missed 14 games with a sprained left ankle.
Smith’s return couldn’t come soon enough because Edmonton will be without leading scorer Mike York for three to six weeks with a broken finger.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 29): Kings - 57 points, 2nd place (tied), 6 PB, Pacific Division. Oilers - 49 points, 5th place, 20 PB, Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Frolov, 17 goals; Palffy, 25 assists and 41 points; Sean Avery, 187 PIM. Oilers - Raffi Torres, 16 goals; York and Radek Dvorak, 22 assists; York, 37 points; Scott Ferguson, 75 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 29): Kings - Power play: 13.9 percent (32 for 230), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.7 percent (181 for 227), 28th. Oilers - Power play: 10.5 percent (197 for 220), 30th. Penalty killing: 79.4 percent (189 for 238), 29th.
SEASON SERIES: Kings, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 16; Kings, 4-2. At Los Angeles, Joe Corvo and Frolov scored third-period goals to lead the Kings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 10-7-4-4 on the road; Oilers - 12-11-3-0 at home.