Daily News Kings test 4-game winning streak against nemesis Oilers


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
Jul 28, 2004
The Kings levitated from Vancouver to Edmonton atop their four-game win streak for Thursday’s throwdown with the team that earned four even bigger victories in each of the past two seasons to eliminate them from the playoffs.

They will face the Oilers, their two league MVPs (Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl) and their freshly ordained 50-goal scorer (Zach Hyman) after keeping the division-leading Canucks at arm’s length in Monday’s 3-2 win. That allowed the Kings to construct a chain of four consecutive triumphs for the third time this season, drawing designs on their second five-game surge of the campaign.

Edmonton has won two of three meetings with the Kings thus far, including the most recent one 4-2 on Feb. 26. The Kings prevailed 4-0 in a gutsy, shot-block-laden performance right after the All-Star break in Jim Hiller’s first game behind the bench as interim coach on Feb. 10.

Since that victory, they had filled up on empty calories for the most part. Of their dozen victories between the win over Edmonton and their past two games, just two came against teams currently in a playoff position while they faltered in five such matchups.

They’ve begun to change that narrative by narrowly squeezing past Vancouver and the Tampa Bay Lightning in preparation for the arduous spring ahead. Then, they appear destined to face Edmonton, Vancouver or the winner of a cutthroat Central Division race in the first round of the postseason.

“Our last two games, Tampa was a little closer to playoff [style] and then [Vancouver] was even a half-step forward in terms of intensity,” said Blake Lizotte, who got credit for his first goal since Dec. 20 on Monday. “I love how our group responded to that intensity. I think that we’re trending in the right direction for this time of year.”

“We have some guys who have been in this league a long time and they know what it’s like to play this time of year and deep into the playoffs,” he added.

Lizotte said the Kings, who soared early on, sank in the middle of their campaign and now have begun to regain their form, felt somewhat like they had participated in three separate seasons, likening the current stretch to “a rebirth.”

From the end of Lizotte’s goal drought to the ongoing deluge of another Kings center, Anze Kopitar, who registered his 40th assist against Vancouver. His 14 campaigns with 40 or more helpers are fewer than only Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (15) among active players. Only 14 players in NHL history have more than 14 40-assist seasons, a number that could shrink to either six or seven (depending on Crosby’s performance) next year should Kopitar cross that threshold again.

Kopitar was hardly lonely at the bottom during his midseason lull, but he’s made up for lost time of late. He has nine points during the Kings’ four-game ascent and has turned in a multipoint performance in five of his past six outings. In March, Kopitar has a team-high 14 points, and his linemates have also thrived. Adrian Kempe has 12 points in the month and Quinton Byfield sports an active three-game points streak, one shy of Kopitar’s and Kempe’s.

“We’re getting better as a line, for sure,” Kopitar said. “Like all of us, we lost it a little bit in the middle of the season, but we’re getting the mojo back. We’re getting the confidence and, really, the belief back.”

For Edmonton, McDavid sat four points behind the NHL’s co-leaders in scoring, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon. If he were to close the gap, it would signify his sixth Art Ross Trophy in eight seasons, with Kucherov and Draisaitl having captured one each to interrupt his reign.

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Perhaps the biggest story in Edmonton this week if not this season has been Hyman, a 31-year-old who was drafted a modest 123rd overall in 2010 and rose beyond the level of trusted companion – first to Toronto’s Auston Matthews and then to McDavid – to being a force in his own right. He scored his 50th goal of the season Sunday and then No. 51 on Tuesday when he deposited the overtime game-winner in Winnipeg to top the Jets 4-3.


When: Thursday, 6 p.m.

Where: Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

TV: Bally Sports West

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