Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar said playing consistently has been a challenge at times for his club. The Kings, though, have been very steady lately in matchups with the Edmonton Oilers.
After surviving a blown four-goal lead in its latest game, Los Angeles closes a four-game homestand looking to continue its recent dominance of the Oilers on Sunday night.
Los Angeles has lost leads in all three games of this stretch at Staples Center but has come away with a pair of wins. The Kings scored three times in the third period to beat Dallas 5-2 last Saturday, then gave up a last-minute goal to Calgary in a 3-2 defeat two days later. It looked like the Kings might suffer another disappointing loss Thursday.
After taking a 4-0 lead in the first period, Los Angeles allowed Phoenix to tie the game at 4 early in the third. Mike Richards gave the Kings the lead for good with a short-handed goal with 15:41 remaining, and Dwight King finished off the 7-4 win with his first career hat trick.
"It was up and down, but that's the challenge for us, always has been," said Kopitar, who scored his first goal of the season 42 seconds into the game. "We always have good spurts, and tonight the first period was obviously a really good one, but we have to maintain that.
"We can't let a four-game lead turn into a 4-4 game. We've got to work on that, staying a little more consistent, but it was a huge two points."
Los Angeles (7-4-0) has rarely wasted leads against Edmonton in recent years, going 11-1-4 in the past 16 meetings. Jonathan Quick is a big reason for that domination, going 9-1-3 during that span with a 1.51 goals-against average. He's allowed five goals in the last five as the Kings have gone 4-0-1, including a 4-1 home victory in the latest matchup April 6.
Edmonton has one regulation win in its last 13 visits to Staples Center.
The Oilers (3-8-1) are coming off back-to-back regulation losses, including a 5-4 defeat in Phoenix on Saturday. Edmonton erased a two-goal deficit and took a 4-3 lead on Ryan Jones' goal 7:23 into the third period, but went on to give up two goals in a 1:43 span.
"It's getting disheartening to say, 'I like most of our game, but we ended up short,'" said coach Dallas Eakins, whose Oilers have a Western Conference-worst seven points.
Former Los Angeles goaltender and current Edmonton backup Jason LaBarbera started Saturday, so it seems likely Devan Dubnyk will be back in net even though his 4.01 goals-against average is among the league's worst. Dubnyk, however, is 2-2-0 with a 1.74 GAA in his last four matchups with the Kings.
Jeff Carter has scored five goals in his last four meetings with the Oilers but has one in his last seven games overall.
The Kings have scored on the power play in three straight games and are facing an Edmonton penalty kill which is one of the NHL's worst (72.7 percent), giving up 12 power-play goals in as many games.