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Kings Fight Through Shootout for Win Over Oilers

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All of the signs were pointing to a Kings win. The flashing red goal light behind the Oilers net malfunctioning, flashing constantly during a stretch in the second period. The net caving in over the Oilers net-minder Devan Dubnyk surrounding him like a cocoon in the third period. Oilers Center Colin Fraser almost falling through the door to the Kings bench late in the third period. Kings head coach Terry Murray looking to be the fastest coach to reach a 100 wins with the Kings in his 197th game.

In a metaphoric poetical sense, the Kings should have broken their five-game home losing streak all in shootouts to the Oilers dating back to Dec. 3, 2007 - never mind the Oilers have been among the worst teams in the NHL. Hell, Bill Plaschke would fall all over himself with stuff like this. You know, if he went to more than one hockey game a year.

But for some reason the Kings, the team that is expected to go deep in the playoffs, never had the lead against a young Edmonton Oilers team.

“Young youthful enthusiasm is the name of the Oilers game,” Justin Williams said. “They’ll come hard and make plays. They’re not afraid to make plays.”

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Nothing exemplified this more than the rookie phenom Taylor Hall’s power-play goal to open the scoring 1:39 in the second period. After a hard hitting first period where the Oilers seemed to get the upper hand, Hall took the puck from Sam Gagner behind the blue line and sped through the Kings zone before shooting the puck at a bad angle from the left faceoff circle that had Kings netminder Jonathan Quick fooled.

“We came out slow,” Anze Kopitar admitted. “The biggest thing is they play with no pressure.”

And after killing all penalties in their first 12 home games, they have now given up a power-play goal in their last three home games.

Rather than wallow, the Kings responded with a great play during a power-play at 8:31. Jack Johnson took the cleared puck in the Kings zone with Michal Handzus and Williams ahead of the play. Williams circled back from the Oilers blue line to the Kings blue line, Johnson passed the puck ahead to Handzus sitting just behind the Oilers blue line. With a rushing Williams down the left wing, Handzus touched the puck into the zone to Williams’ stick who made his way to net and got it past Dubnyk at point-blank range.

“I can’t tell you how hard that is for Handzus to time that and slow the puck down just enough so I can skate into it,” Williams said.

While the Kings looked a lot better in the second period, Murray wasn’t content to let things be moving the newest King Marco Sturm up to the first line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.

“I felt he was holding on to the puck and looking to make some plays,” Murray said about Sturm’s job on the fourth line. “It was encouraging. That’s why I put him up on that line in the third period to take advantage of the energy. I liked what I saw.”

But a faceoff loss in their own zone, the Kings gave up a shot to Zack Stortini from the blue line that deflected off of Theo Peckham and Jean-Francois Jacques, who was credited with the goal, at 4:25. But 20 seconds later after Wayne Simmonds turned on the afterburners and had his shot saved had a little back and forth with Jack Johnson who twisted around for a wrister that tied the game.

Naturally the game would remain at 2-2 after regulation and the five-minute overtime period. So onto the shootout where Jordan Eberle gave the Oilers the advantage in the first round. Dustin Brown tied it in the third round where it would remain tied until Jarret Stoll knocked one in the sixth round while Andrew Cogliano was stopped by Quick.

So the Kings break the home five game losing streak in shootouts to the Oilers, and they gave an early Christmas present to Murray with his 100th win as a King.

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“It doesn’t feel any different,” Murray said in his usual even-tempered manner. “It was a good win for us.”