Goalies could rule in Kings-Oilers matchup
While the Edmonton Oilers have what appears to be a goaltending controversy, the Los Angeles Kings may have the finest netminder in franchise history between the pipes for the first time in more than a month.
The Pacific Division rivals meet for the second time this week on Thursday night at Rogers Place.
Cam Talbot has been the starter for the Oilers since joining the team in 2015, but he’s being pushed by Mikko Koskinen, who is back in the NHL after a four-game stint with the New York Islanders in 2010-11 followed by a solid career in Finland and the KHL.
The 30-year-old Finn has been nothing short of impressive so far, posting a 6-2-1 record with a 2.29 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and two shutouts. He made 28 saves on Tuesday in Edmonton’s 1-0 overtime win over the Dallas Stars.
Both of Koskinen’s shutouts have come at Rogers Place, where he is 3-0-0 with a 0.66 GAA and .979 save percentage as a starter.
“The guys are playing great in front of me. It makes my job so much easier,” he said. “Everyone’s on the same page. Now we have to keep doing that every day and get better and better.”
Talbot is 5-9-1 with a 3.29 GAA and .889 save percentage on the season. Though the 31-year-old veteran has given up 23 goals while losing six consecutive starts, coach Ken Hitchcock isn’t ready to give up on him — or say there’s a controversy.
“I think the goaltending is our strength — both guys,” he said. “If one guy’s going and the other guy’s backing up, we’re more than comfortable with both.”
Talbot stopped 27 of 30 shots as Edmonton (11-11-3) fell to the Kings 5-2 on Sunday.
“Talbot was incredible in Los Angeles and held us in there at the start, and we’re getting good performances every night from both guys since I’ve been here,” Hitchcock said
The Oilers are 2-1-1 since Hitchcock took over on Nov. 20 and are going for their fifth win in six home games against the Kings.
Los Angeles (9-12-1) is looking for its first three-game winning streak of the season. After topping the Oilers in southern California, the Kings got 32 saves from rookie Cal Petersen and Dustin Brown scored 53 seconds into overtime for a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
Petersen was thrust into the starting role after Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell were sidelined with knee injuries. Quick was activated from injured reserve before the game against Vancouver and is expected to start either this contest or on Thursday against the Calgary Flames.
The 23-year-old Petersen knows that Quick brings more than experience — and two Stanley Cup rings.
“To have Quickie back, he’s such an important voice in the locker room and a strong leader that I think even tonight when he didn’t play, I think it was a huge morale boost to have him in the locker room,” said Petersen, who’s 4-3-0 with 2.46 GAA, a .927 save percentage and one shutout.
Los Angeles went 6-7-0 without Quick, who will try to improve on an 0-3-1 record with a 4.55 GAA and .845 save percentage. He is 11-3-3 with a 1.64 GAA and .944 save percentage all time in Edmonton.
Quick, the Kings’ career leader in wins, needs seven for 300 in his career.
Brown has four goals in his last two games after going eight games without one. He has scored three goals in his last 16 visits to northern Alberta.