Preview: Kings at Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers have lost three of four overall and three in a row at home to fall out of first place in the Pacific Division. The Oilers look to regain their footing on Friday when they host the Los Angeles Kings, who sport a disastrous 2-10-1 road record entering a stretch in which they play 10 of their next 12 away from home.
Edmonton failed to take advantage of an early lead and paid dearly on Wednesday, dropping a 5-2 decision to Ottawa in the opener of a four-game homestand. "It was a great opportunity for us to cement our game, and you let your foot off the gas and let teams hang around, and this is what happens," Oilers forward Sam Gagner said. Edmonton has split its first two encounters against a Los Angeles team that has mustered just 15 goals en route to losing five of its last seven contests (2-4-1). "We're struggling scoring goals right now, so the mistakes are magnified and they end up costing you wins. So, a lot to work on," Kings coach Todd McLellan said after Wednesday's 3-1 setback to Washington.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS West (Los Angeles), Sportsnet West (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE KINGS (11-16-2): Sluggish starts have been an all-too-familiar theme for Los Angeles, which followed up an early two-goal deficit in a 4-2 loss at Anaheim on Monday by falling behind by a pair of goals against the Capitals. "I think (Wednesday) was a repeat of our night in Anaheim, where we fell behind and then we started to dig our way out," McLellan said. "And it's admirable that our guys will do that and play to the end, but the beginning, there has to be a stronger belief system at the beginning." Blake Lizotte answered early in the third period with his third goal of the season and third point in his last six games.
ABOUT THE OILERS (17-10-3): Edmonton could see the return of a pair of familiar faces against Los Angeles as top-six forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian participated in Thursday's optional skate at Rogers Place. Kassian has missed the last two games with a back injury after he was injured following a hit from Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler on Saturday while Nugent-Hopkins has been sidelined for five with an ailing hand. "Kass looked like he was moving well out there," Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. "Nuge wasn't in all the drills, but the ones he was, he looked alright in."
1. Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar has scored two goals and set up two others in two meetings with Edmonton this season.
2. Oilers captain Connor McDavid has two goals and three assists in the season series.
3. Kings RW Tyler Toffoli has just one point in seven games since collecting two goals and an assist in a 5-1 win over Edmonton.
PREDICTION: Oilers 5, Kings 1