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Kings Have No Answers Against Oilers

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The Kings claim they want to be an elite NHL team. You could have fooled me after watching their 3-0 loss to the upstart Edmonton Oilers.

“In the second period they pretty much dominated every aspect of the game,” captain Dustin Brown said dejectedly in front of his locker.

Head coach Terry Murray wasn’t as quick to concede. “A couple of bad bounces out there,” Murray said after emphatically insisting that it wasn’t a lack of inspiration out there on the ice.

It was more than that though. The Kings looked lost on the ice tonight. They couldn’t connect on their passes. They couldn’t generate more than one shot at a time on Oilers’ goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. They were losing all of the loose puck battles. And they don’t seem to have any answers.

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“If we had answers we wouldn’t be in this predicament,” defenseman Jack Johnson said. “I really wish I had a good answer for you, but I really don’t. We’ve got a lot of great offensive players here, a lot of talent, but for some reason we are an offensively challenged team.”

Just to tell you how bad it was, the Galaxy-Red Bull game was more exciting than this game.

Jonathan Quick actually did an admirable job. It’s hard to be perfect when your own defenseman in front of the crease tips a puck past you (the Ryan Smyth goal to open the scoring) and when an opposing player Anton Lander is right on top of you that somehow escapes the eyes of the referees and the replay officials in Toronto (Lennart Petrell’s goal). Let’s not forget the early third period goal that started on a giveaway by Anze Kopitar and compounded by an absent defense that led to Corey Potter’s goal.

And to give Edmonton a lot of credit they wound up blocking 22 shots from the Kings.

“I thought we in the early going, especially in the first period, had a lot of opportunities to get pucks to the net,” Murray said. “We used our defensemen very well, low to high, and a lot of pucks were directed to the net, but they did block a lot.”

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The first shot the Kings were credited was Dustin Penner’s at 10:21 in the first period.

“The shot block is always good when it’s in your favor, but Habby [Khabibulin] still had to make some big saves so we’re not kidding ourselves there,” Edmonton head coach Tom Renney said. “We kept shots outside and he had good body position so he didn’t have to make the second and third saves, which is always big.”

The win keeps Edmonton on top of the Western Conference, one of the surprises in the NHL. For a team that’s so young, it’s amazing how disciplined they are in their own zone in playing defense.

“They work real hard,” Renney said. “There’s a huge respect for the system.”

Renney also said the process of becoming good began last season while they were being laughed at around the league.

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“We had a tough year last year. It was very important to all of us to go through that and develop a certain resiliency and resolve to deal with it and galvanize our look and character and all of those types of things.”

New York Rangers defeat Anaheim Ducks 2-1 (SO). The good news is that Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller didn’t let any soft goals in this game. The first line, badly in need of offense, got the Ducks lone goal with Bobby Ryan tying the game late in the second period with assists from Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. And the Ducks got a point. And that’s about all the positives in this game. The second line of Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano couldn’t sustain the offense they showed the other day in Washington.

The Ducks are now 1-2-3 in this current road trip with one more game remaining in Detroit against a reeling Red Wings team on Saturday.

LA Galaxy defeat New York Red Bulls 2-1. They win the series with an aggregate 3-1 goals and advance to the Western Conference Finals against Real Salt Lake, a rematch of the 2009 MLS Cup finals where Salt Lake won in a penalty shootout after extra time.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

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USC Trojans at Colorado Buffaloes. 6:00 p.m. ESPN, AM 710 KSPN.

LA Lakers at Phoenix Suns

Portland Trail Blazers at LA Clippers