Simmonds, Kings dash Oilers playoff hopes
Whatever slim hope the Edmonton Oilers had of making the playoffs was put in danger by Wayne Simmonds and the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night. Then the St. Louis Blues made any chance disappear.
The Kings forward had a goal and an assist as Los Angeles beat Edmonton 2-1. Coupled with the Blues' 5-1 win over the Phoenix Coyotes later Tuesday, the Oilers were officially dropped out of playoff contention.
Fernando Pisani had the lone goal for the Oilers, who started the game slowly with 19 first-period giveaways.
"The last two games are going to be tough to play," said Oilers forward Sam Gagner. "It's a pretty bad feeling in here after coming into this season really excited to get it going, and then hovering around the middle of the pack for a while and faltering in the end. It's a tough thing to deal with."
The Oilers can blame themselves for missing out, losing seven of their last nine games.
"We faltered at the worst possible time of the year," captain Ethan Moreau admitted. "The last couple weeks we didn't get the results, regardless of how we played. We put ourselves in a position of having to win games. It's very disappointing."
Alexander Frolov also scored for the Kings, who have won two of their last three.
"We talked about finishing out the year strong," said Kings defenseman Matt Greene. "These last three games are huge for us. We're just trying to make sure we have some good compete out there and are playing hard.
"It's just part of the game," added the former Oiler. "We're going for points here, we're not going to lay down for anybody. Just another game for us."
Edmonton was in a hole right from the opening minute. The Kings scored just 55 seconds in when Dwayne Roloson let in a soft goal through his legs on an unscreened point shot from Frolov.
Less than three minutes later the Kings went up 2-0 as Michal Handzus sneaked up behind defenseman Denis Grebeshkov and stripped him of the puck in front of the Oilers net. Handzus had his shot stopped, but Simmonds was there to put home the rebound.
The Kings more than doubled Edmonton in the first-period shot column, 14-6.
"We just didn't have any jump at all at the start," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "It was just a terrible start, virtually from everybody."
Edmonton started to get going in the second period, coming within inches of scoring on a point shot from Steve Staios that went off goalie Jonathan Quick's glove and just missed rolling into the net.
The Oilers finally scored with 3:31 left in the second period as Grebeshkov's shot was tipped by Pisani and bounced off Kings defender Denis Gauthier and into the net.
Edmonton reversed the shot totals with a 19-7 edge in the second period.
The Oilers continued to pressure in the third session and came close to tying with seven minutes to play as Andrew Cogliano sent a shot through the crease during a mad scramble in front.
Roloson, 39, was making his 36th consecutive start. ... Edmonton won both of its games in L.A. this year and the Kings returned the favor by winning both of their games in Edmonton. ... Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske got his first NHL assist on L.A.'s first goal. ... Los Angeles had scored one goal or less in six of its seven previous road games. ... Kings rookie Drew Doughty leads all NHL rookies and the Kings with 23:56 time-on-ice average.