LOS ANGELES (AP)—Mathieu Garon faced so many shots by Michael Cammalleri, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar in practice and in pregame warmups during his two seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, the Edmonton Oilers goalie was able to put his knowledge to practical use.
Garon made 31 saves in regulation and survived all three shots he faced in the shootout, leading the Oilers to a 4-3 victory over the Kings on Monday night in his return to Staples Center.
“I was just trying to be focused on the puck,” Garon said. “Cammy surprised me a lot. I think he tried a new move. The other guys, they’re so skilled that you never know what they’re going to do. And for their part, they know me, too. So it’s pretty even.”
Garon made his first start against his former teammates since signing a two-year contract with Edmonton as an unrestricted free agent July 3. He left because he didn’t see much of a future for himself in Los Angeles behind Jason LaBarbera, whom he expected to get the bulk of the playing time after a spectacular season in the American Hockey League.
“I think it started the summer before last season when they got (Dan Cloutier),” Garon said. “By that time, I knew I was not really part of the plan anymore. I think I had a good season last year, but I knew I was not their guy. Obviously, I didn’t want to spend another season like that, and that’s why I decided to take a different path. This organization has a lot of confidence in me.”
The Kings outshot the Oilers 13-3 in the third period, and Garon held his ground until Ladislav Nagy tied it at 3 with 1:28 left. Nagy converted Derek Armstrong’s centering pass from the right corner during a goalmouth collision that landed Garon on the seat of his pants. It took a lengthy video replay to confirm the goal.
“We got away from the things we were doing well in the first two periods,” Oilers center Sam Gagner said. “We stopped playing aggressively, and it ended up hurting us. We gave them a little too much time with the puck, and they were able to play in out some a little bit more. It’s a learning process for us, but we’re glad we came out with the win.”
Kopitar scored in his third consecutive game and assisted on Brown’s power-play goal, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Kings’ seventh loss in nine games.
They nearly won it in overtime, but Patrick O’Sullivan’s 25-foot wrist shot hit the right post behind Garon’s stick hand with 3:11 left in overtime. Cammalleri, who has scored only twice in his past 15 games, hit the crossbar with the Kings’ first attempt in the shootout.
“I think we outplayed them from start to finish, but Matty Garon played a helluva game in net,” Brown said. “He made more than a handful of saves that were Grade A—scrambling saves. We could have easily had six or seven goals tonight, but he kept the puck out of the net for them.”
Jean-Sebastien Aubin got the start for the Kings and made 20 saves in place of LaBarbera, who did not dress after injuring his ribs during a goalmouth scramble in Saturday’s 5-2 loss against Colorado.
Just 2 seconds after killing off a hooking penalty against Jon Klemm, the Kings found themselves short-handed again when Kopitar received a delay-of-game penalty for clearing the puck over the glass. The Oilers came up empty on that power play and two more before connecting the fifth time they had the man advantage.
Pitkanen dumped the puck behind the Kings’ net from the neutral zone and Aubin left his crease to play it, but it took a strange carom off the end boards and off the goalie’s skate, leaving Penner with a wide-open net. He fanned on the first swipe, then poked it in at 8:05 of the second period while Aubin was still scrambling back for his sixth goal, which gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead.
“I guess karma’s on my side right now, the way I’ve been getting them—but I’ll take them,” said Penner, who had a puck go into the net off his mouth for a goal in the win at Anaheim.
Brown pulled Los Angeles even at 2-all at 10:31 of the second with his 11th goal while Raffi Torres was serving a holding penalty. But the Oilers regained the lead when Thoresen tipped in Robert Nilsson’s one-timer from the left point.
The Oilers have won three in a row for the first time since Dec. 4-8, 2006. … The Kings had to withstand six Edmonton power plays, following an 11-game stretch in which they were short-handed no more than four times in any game. … Garon faced the Kings twice while with the Montreal Canadiens, both times at Los Angeles. He made 28 saves in a 2-1 loss on March 8, 2003, then beat them 4-2 on March 6, 2004 with 46 saves—which is still a career high.