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Suddenly struggling Oilers look to get back in gear vs. Kings

Edmonton Oilers' Warren Foegele (37) and Connor McDavid (97) celebrate a goal against the Boston Bruins' during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday February 21, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Edmonton Oilers' Warren Foegele (37) and Connor McDavid (97) celebrate a goal against the Boston Bruins' during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday February 21, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The honeymoon is over for Edmonton Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch.

The Oilers have lost three in a row, all at home, heading into their matchup against the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Monday night, the first speed bump for Edmonton since Jay Woodcroft was fired on Nov. 12 and Knoblauch took over.

"This could be the best thing for our group heading down the stretch, learning how to not have the stretches that we're having right now," Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner said after a 6-3 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

The Oilers have strung together winning streaks of eight and 16 games with Knoblauch behind the bench, allowing them to move into a playoff spot following their disastrous 5-12-1 start to the season.

Since the 16-game winning streak ended on Feb. 6 against the Vegas Golden Knights, the Oilers are 4-5-1, which has kept them 14 points behind the Pacific Division-leading Vancouver Canucks and tied in points with the Kings, three points behind the second-place Golden Knights.

"You don't have too much time to overthink everything and change the whole script, so it's little details," Skinner said. "We're good enough where it's not like you have to change a whole bunch of things, but just minimizing the mistakes that we're making."

Edmonton can also perform better at the start of the game.

The Oilers gave up three goals in the first 16 minutes against the Flames to fall into a 3-0 hole. They allowed the first goal in the other two losses during their current skid as well.

"Definitely concerning," Edmonton center Leon Draisaitl said of the latest slow start. "It just seems like (we) weren't ready, or our heads weren't into it early, and this league is too good to play catch up all the time. So, another thing that we'll look at and definitely have to fix."

The Kings also underwent an in-season coaching change and they seemed to have righted the ship under interim coach Jim Hiller.

Los Angeles is 6-2-0 since Hiller took over for Todd McLellan on Feb. 2, most recently beating the visiting Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday night.

"Every point matters right now," Kings defenseman Matt Roy said. "We dug ourselves in a bit of a hole there in January, so we need to take every win we can get now."

Los Angeles is 5-for-9 on the power play in the past three games and Kevin Fiala has scored with the man-advantage in all three.

"Once you get one, all of a sudden you've got a little more confidence," Hiller said. "Instead of thinking pass-shot, you're thinking shot."

The Kings are due for a goal at 5-on-5, however. They've failed to notch one over the past two games.

"I think it's important that we bear down here going forward," Roy said. "Getting closer to the playoffs, I think 5-on-5 play is going to be huge."

The Kings lost prized defenseman Mikey Anderson to an upper-body injury in the 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday and he's week to week.

Los Angeles is expected to recall defenseman Jacob Moverare from Ontario of the American Hockey League to replace Anderson on the roster.

Moverare played five games for the Kings in December and 26 games over the past three seasons overall, totaling two assists.

--Field Level Media Top Stories


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