Nikolai Khabibulin stopped all 19 shots he faced as the Los Angeles Kings were shutout 3-0 by the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night at Staples Center. It was the second shutout of the season and 45th in the career of the 38-year old Khabibulin, who leads the NHL in both save percentage and goals against average this year. The Kings have lost three straight games.
Thursday night was a battle between the top two defensive teams in the NHL, and the Oilers really lived up to their end of the bargain. Edmonton has allowed a mere 18 goals in 12 games this season, and has won six straight games for the first time since March 2002.
During the second intermission, Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford expressed disappointment in the Kings offense. "We talked about that shot mentality before the game, getting traffic in front of Khabibulin but we haven't done that," Ranford said.
The Kings have been shutout in two straight home games, and are 1-3-1 in their last five games overall.
Ryan Smyth heard boos in his first game back in Los Angeles after requesting a trade from the Kings during the offseason, and heard even more when he scored the first goal of the night at 11:26 into the second period. The 35-year old Smyth has six goals and five assists in 12 games for the Oilers, who boast one of the youngest rosters in the league.
"It gives you energy on a consistent basis, whether it's in practice or the games. I'm just enjoying it, trying to watch and learn from these guys," Smyth said after the second period on the Prime Ticket broadcast.
The Oilers' second goal was a controversial one, as Anton Lander of the Oilers appeared to shove goaltender Jonathan Quick in the crease as Lennart Petrell's shot found its way into the net. It was the first NHL goal for the 27-year old Petrell.
The Kings host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at Staples Center.
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