Kings, Golden Knights open back-to-back in LA

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights open a rare back-to-back home-and-home, two-game series on Monday night at Staples Center.

The Kings (33-24-5) dropped a controversial 4-3 decision to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday for their second straight home loss. Los Angeles trailed 4-2 with less than a minute to play and appeared to have tied the score with 9.4 seconds remaining on a goal by winger Dustin Brown, who had drawn the Kings within 4-3 with 18 seconds remaining.

Brown looked to be denied at the goal line by Edmonton goaltender Cam Talbot for the tying goal, but after the final horn sounded, a video review determined that the puck had crossed the goal line and was ruled a goal by the referees.

With the Staples Center fans jubitant after the ruling, Oilers coach Todd McLellan asked for a video review and it was determined by the situation room in Toronto that Brown interfered with Talbot and the goal was taken off the board.

The clock was reset to 9.4 seconds and Los Angeles could not muster a shot before the final horn sounded for a second time.

“It’s frustrating, if the puck is trapped under his pad and I jam his pad into the net, I can live with that,” Brown said. “But the puck’s not under his pad, its loose, I’m hitting the puck. Does my stick touch his pad? Yeah, but the puck’s right there. It’s frustrating.

“At the end of the day, though, we can’t wait until the last 10 seconds to score a goal like that, but at the end of the day, I think it’s a goal.”

Los Angeles lost an important two points in its chase for a postseason berth, which makes the two games against the division-leading Golden Knights crucial. Vegas has won both matchups with Los Angeles, 4-2 on Nov. 19 and 3-2 in overtime on Dec. 28 at Staples Center.

A positive note in the loss was the return of Kings center Jeff Carter, who missed 55 games with a severed ankle that required surgery.

Carter played 17:36, took four shots and won 11 of 16 faceoffs. The hope is he can get wingers Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson back to their accustomed level of productivity.

The Golden Knights’ magical inaugural season continued Saturday night with a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Vegas (41-16-4) improved their home record to 24-5-2, with William Karlsson registering two goals and an assist and Reilly Smith contributing three assists. Karlsson’s 33 goals trail only Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (38 goals) and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (33 goals) on the list of NHL goal scorers.

The Golden Knights’ top line has stunning statistics for a trio that was put together in September. All three have established career highs in points with 21 games remaining in the regular season and are the top three in the NHL in plus/minus ranking (Karlsson 36, Jonathan Marchessault 31, Reilly Smith 29).

Vegas should welcome a new team member to the ice on Monday as winger Ryan Reaves is scheduled to play against Los Angeles.

Reaves was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday via a three-way trade along with a 2019 fourth-round pick in a complex three-team trade that results in Vegas retaining 40 percent of the salary of center Derick Brassard.

Reaves registered four goals, four assists and 86 penalty minutes in 58 games with Pittsburgh. He will bring a physical presence to the team.

“We just want Ryan to fit in with our group,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “I’m not going to say what role he is going to have. He is a character guy, a veteran, and he can help our team win.”