EditorsNote: fixes to “72” in lede
Talbot posts 2nd straight shutout as Oilers blank Kings
EDMONTON, Alberta — Cam Talbot has started 65 of the Oilers’ 72 regular-season games. The Edmonton goalie is showing no signs of fatigue.
Talbot made 35 saves Monday, posting his second consecutive shutout as the Oilers beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-0. It was his seventh shutout of the season.
“I think the more I play, the better I feel and the more confident I get,” Talbot said. “Day in and day out. And, anytime you can pick up some big wins it just kind of carries over and you just feel good going into the next one.”
The Kings aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoff race yet. However, after a 5-2 loss Sunday in Calgary and then Monday’s defeat in Edmonton, their postseason hopes are on life support. The Kings are six points behind the St. Louis Blues for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles (34-31-7) has just 10 games left on the schedule. The Blues have a game in hand.
The Kings came into Alberta knowing that to gain in the playoff race, they needed four points out of their games in Calgary and Edmonton. They got none. The Kings may look at this Alberta trip as the time when their era of dominance came to an end. A franchise that won Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014 now needs a miracle to get into the playoffs.
Connor McDavid’s two assists brought him to 82 points on the season, alone atop the NHL scoring chart, one ahead of Boston’s Brad Marchand. But McDavid wanted to talk about Talbot, not his battle for the Art Ross Trophy.
“Cam has been great for us all year,” said McDavid. “For him to play like that in back-to-back games — two of the biggest games of the year for us — he was great.”
McDavid’s coach, however, had no problem waxing poetic about the NHL’s points leader.
“I’d like to play him for 60 minutes but I think we’d run him right into the ground,” Todd McLellan said. “He was exceptional, I thought, all night, like he usually is. But, in that first period he had it on a string and he made some tremendous plays. I don’t know what else you can say about him. He went head-to-head against their best and did a great job.”
Patrick Maroon opened the scoring just 1:04 after the opening faceoff. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (29 saves) stopped the first shot from Connor McDavid, but the puck bounced into the air, and Maroon took a swipe and knocked it into the goal.
The Oilers (39-24-9) doubled the lead at 12:47 of the first. With the Kings’ Jake Muzzin in the penalty box for interference, Milan Lucic slammed home the rebound off a McDavid shot.
“We played better tonight than we did last night,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We’re a slow-start team for whatever reason.”
The Oilers outshot the Kings 15-7 in the first, and if not for some acrobatic saves from Quick, it would have been lights out for Los Angeles after the opening 20 minutes. His best save came after McDavid blew around Kings defensemen Drew Doughty. Quick did the splits to stop McDavid’s jam attempt at the post, then held his ground on the rebound attempt.
The Kings were able to push back in the second period, but Talbot was the equal to the 19 shots he faced in the frame, including a wonderful glove save on Marian Gaborik.
Veteran Jarome Iginla, who has 622 career NHL goals and joined the Kings at the trade deadline, opened up a cut over Maroon’s nose in a second-period fight. Iginla said his team was simply frustrated by the Oilers.
“We’ve been getting ourselves in some big holes against some good teams,” said Iginla. “It’s hard to fight back. They played good with the lead. We felt like, if we could get that one (goal), the next one would be coming. Give them credit. They played a good game with the lead.”
The Kings struggled to create chances in the third, and, as time ran out, their terrible Alberta road trip came to a not-so-merciful end.
NOTES: Edmonton LW Milan Lucic’s power-play goal ended a streak of 34 straight penalties killed by the Kings on the road, a run that dated back 13 games to Jan. 23. ... The Oilers and Kings still have two more games left against each other, March 28 in Edmonton and April 4 in Los Angeles. ... The teams split their previous two meetings, with Edmonton winning 3-1 at home, while the Kings won 4-2 at the Staples Center. .... The Oilers scratched D Matthew Benning, RW Iiro Pakarinen, LW Anton Slepyshev and LW Jujhar Khaira. ... The Kings scratched C Andy Andreoff, C Nick Shore and D Kevin Gravel.