Rather than get discouraged by a slow start, the Los Angeles Kings stuck to their plan and are now in the midst of a winning streak.
The Edmonton Oilers likely will need a much better effort than their last time out in order to end the visiting Kings’ four-game run Sunday night.
Los Angeles (4-3-0) was outscored 12-2 during an opening three-game skid after missing last season’s playoffs and a chance to defend its second Stanley Cup title in three years.
Jonathan Quick had a .861 save percentage while losing each of those contests, but he’s stopped 87 of 89 shots in three starts during the winning streak after a 40-save performance in Friday’s 3-0 victory over Carolina.
"We’re just playing harder and a little bit more desperate," said Anze Kopitar, who scored in the third period against the Hurricanes. "We’re progressing. We didn’t start off very hot, and now we’re building."
Tyler Toffoli is showing no signs of slowing down. His two goals Friday put him among the league leaders with six, and he’s scored in each game during the win streak.
Coach Darryl Sutter isn’t surprised by his production after he broke out last season with 23 goals and 26 assists despite missing time with mononucleosis. Toffoli had five goals and eight assists during the Kings’ 6-1-2 start last season.
"He was (hot) early last year, too," Sutter said. "Last year at this time, (Jeff) Carter, (Tanner) Pearson, and Toffoli were carrying the offense part of our team, so it’s not really new (and) he’s probably just building on last year. Last year he went down with mono and he struggled after that. Now he’s healthy and strong and feels good."
The Oilers (3-5-0) also got off to a rough start by dropping their first four, but they bounced back to win their next three. That run ended Friday in a 7-4 loss to Washington, which scored four of the game’s final five goals. Edmonton allowed two on the power play, matching the amount it gave up over its first seven combined.
"We weren’t ready to play and we made it pretty easy on them," defenseman Eric Gryba said. "When you’re playing against the best players in the world and you give them easy nights, they’re going to look good and they’re going to play good. We’ve got to be better."
Coach Todd McLellan expressed his disappointment with "certain individuals" without naming specific players, but he likely wasn’t talking about Connor McDavid.
The No. 1 overall pick has been as good as advertised, scoring Friday to give him team highs of five goals and eight points. McDavid and Nail Yakupov assisted on Benoit Pouliot’s first-period goal, and the trio has formed a productive line with 19 points.
Edmonton’s biggest issue against the Capitals was in net. Anders Nilsson gave up six goals on 17 shots before being relieved by Cam Talbot midway through the second.
It’s likely Talbot will get his sixth start in this contest. He has a 2.22 GAA but allowed seven goals while going 1-1-0 in two starts against the Kings last season while with the New York Rangers.
Quick is 9-0-2 with a 1.34 GAA in his last 11 against the Oilers and wasn’t in net for Edmonton’s 4-2 victory in the most recent meeting April 7.