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'It's a big one': McDavid expects a battle against Kings ahead of possible playoff rematch


Just one point separates the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings before their game Thursday night, as the players size each other up for another possible playoff battle.

The Kings have 96 points with eight games remaining and the Oilers have 95 points with seven games left.

Edmonton and L.A. are currently in line to meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup tournament, a rematch of the seven-game series the Oilers won last year.

"It's a big one for us tonight. They're playing really well, so are we. I'd expect a good one," captain Connor McDavid said.

"Certainly more at stake here tonight than any other regular season game, so it's certainly easy to get up for."

The standings in the Pacific Division and Western Conference are so tight that Edmonton still has a chance to finish first in both, so there is no guarantee yet who they will play.

Los Angeles currently holds home-ice advantage over Edmonton, but that's up for grabs too.

Since last year, L.A. added goalie Joonas Korpisalo and defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov. Key players Drew Doughty and Viktor Arvidsson were both hurt during last year's playoffs.

Edmonton added defenceman Mattias Ekholm and forward Nick Bjugstad at the trade deadline and both Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell were playing goal elsewhere last playoffs.

McDavid acknowledged the changes to both rosters but said his group is still confident against the Kings.

"Certainly they're different. They're healthier, they added some pieces, [and a] new goalie. They're definitely different," he told reporters.

"As for us, I think we're just a little bit older, a little more experienced. We're better, too."

The last time the Oilers met the Kings was on Jan. 9.

L.A. won 6-3 in a physical game that saw Jesse Puljujarvi, Zach Hyman and Klim Kostin all take fighting majors.

Since then, the Oilers own the best points percentage [.758] in the NHL with a record of 22-5-6.

Head coach Jay Woodcroft believes the two are linked.

"I saw a lot of teammates stick up for each other. I saw a lot of teammates answer the bell and up their physical ante. And I thought it brought us together and I think our record since then speaks for itself," he told reporters.

"I'd bring it even further back, I think since post-Christmas our team is really going in the right direction. But that game certainly provided us with an opportunity to come together, and I thought we did."

Skinner is expected to start in net for the Oilers and McDavid is looking for his 300th NHL goal. He has 299 in 562 career games.

The Oilers [43-23-9] face off against the Kings [43-21-10] at Rogers Place shortly after 7 p.m. MT. Top Stories

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