After dropping the second game of what has been touted as a season-defining five-game western road trip, the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers will try to bounce back on Saturday night in Las Vegas against the host Golden Knights.
Edmonton, which started the trip with an impressive 5-2 victory at San Jose on Tuesday, fell behind 3-0 in the first period on Thursday night in an eventual 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, who have the fewest points in the Western Conference.
Next up is a tough back-to-back with the Golden Knights and Arizona, which is three points behind the Oilers in second place. The trip concludes on Wednesday at Colorado.
"They really took it to us," Connor McDavid, who extended his points streak to nine games with a goal against L.A., told reporters after the Kings game. "Obviously we weren't ready for that. Congrats to them for that. Obviously, we've got to be better."
"They played well, and we played bad, especially our line," Leon Draisaitl added. "We weren't ready at the start, and that's on us."
McDavid and Draisaitl are tied for the league lead with 44 points each and both are tied for second in the NHL with 16 goals. They are the first pair of teammates to record 44 points through a team's first 24 games since 1995-96 when Mario Lemieux (57) and Jaromir Jagr (51) did it for the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, their line was on the ice for all three goals by Los Angeles in the first period.
"We just didn't play well enough," Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said. "You can't make excuses. Put ourselves down 3-0 and then chased the game. We take our medicine and learn from it.
"This is still a big road trip for us. We've got to get out and we've got to play well in Vegas."
The Golden Knights, who are five points behind the Oilers and tied with Vancouver for third place in the Pacific, come in off a 2-1 overtime loss to the Sharks on Thursday night, snapping a two-game winning streak.
Logan Couture scored the game-winner for San Jose with 1:40 to go in OT, knocking in a rebound of his own shot past Marc-Andre Fleury at the end of a breakaway. Aaron Dell had 37 saves for the Sharks as Vegas fell to 0-4 in overtime this season.
"I thought we played our style of game, and that's what we want," said defenseman Brayden McNabb, who scored the lone Vegas goal. "Usually we get different results, but it was one of those nights. We ran into a hot goalie and we've got to move on. ... It's a tough loss but at least we got a point out of it."
Although the Golden Knights have won just two of their last eight games and haven't been able to put together a winning streak longer than two games this season, head coach Gerard Gallant isn't ready to push the panic button.
"I feel good," Gallant said. "I mean, even with the games we were losing we weren't playing that bad. So, I feel good about our team. Would I like to be higher in the standings with more points? Of course. But you know what, it's been a battle. It's been a grind and our team's coming out and we're playing pretty good hockey. ... We could've won the game, should've won the game, but it doesn't happen every night."
--Field Level Media