LOS ANGELES (AP) – Konstantin Pushkarev landed the first big hit, Jan Hejda bounced back to deliver the knockout punch.
Hejda was checked into the boards by fellow rookie Pushkarev in the opening minute but the Edmonton Oilers’ defenceman shook it off and scored the deciding goal in a 2-1 victory Monday night over the Los Angeles Kings.
Hejda won it 1:14 into overtime with his first NHL goal in his 14th game.
“It’s nice to win an overtime game, because it has been a while,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “The odds have to turn in your favour when you drop as many as we have lately.”
Jarret Stoll had a power-play goal, and Dwayne Roloson made 34 saves for the Oilers in the only game on the league schedule.
Pushkarev scored his first NHL goal with 14:11 left in the third period to tie it and set up Hejda’s heroics.
Hejda skated down the slot and steered in Ryan Smyth’s centring pass that came from the right circle.
“You don’t like to see your team make a big mistake like we made in the overtime,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said. “We lost the puck twice and then lost two guys in coverage. When you make that many mistakes on a play, you’re going to eventually end up with the puck in the back of your net.”
Smyth’s assist gave him 10 points in seven games after missing 10 because of a broken right thumb. The Oilers (20-18-4), who were a win away from capturing the Stanley Cup last season, are now in a struggle in the tight Western Conference just to get back into the playoffs.
“We really do feel we have a better team than our record indicates,” Smyth said. “There are areas we can work on, but we don’t feel it’s too late for us. We’re right in there. Tonight was a big step for us.”
Pushkarev, the Kings’ 21-year-old right wing playing in his third NHL game, started the play that led to the tying goal when he bumped Edmonton defenceman Mathieu Roy off the puck in the left corner. He then backtracked toward the Oilers blue line, got a pass from Lubomir Visnovsky and took a long wrist shot that beat Roloson through a screen.
“We were doing a good job cycling in the corner and shooting at the net, whenever you shoot on the net something can happen,” Pushkarev said.
Stoll opened the scoring at 7:17 of the second period with his 12th goal, a one-timer from the top of the left circle that beat Mathieu Garon high to the glove side while Brian Willsie was serving a hooking penalty.
The Kings, who had their highest-scoring game of the season in a 7-4 victory at Edmonton on Dec. 18, squandered a good chance to tie it about 7 minutes later when leading goal-scorer Alexander Frolov had Roloson at his mercy on a 2-on-1 rush and chipped the puck wide of the left post with a backhander.
“We had some good scoring bids, but you have to give some credit to Roloson,” Kings centre Michael Cammalleri said. “Matty played really well, but we have to be able to score more than one goal for him.”
The Oilers nearly took a 2-0 in the final minute of the first period. Shawn Horcoff’s wrist shot hit the crossbar at the end of a 2-on-1 rush, and Brad Winchester misfired on a short shot from the left of the net that trickled under Garon’s legs and hit the far post with one second remaining.
Edmonton came close again about 3½ minutes into the second period when Winchester found Marty Reasoner in the slot with a perfect cross-ice feed from the left boards. Garon kicked his left leg out at the last instant to rob the Oilers centre.
“When we came back at the end I thought we had a good chance to win,” Garon said. “We were good offensively and defensively, did not give up too many shots on goal. But in the overtime, a mistake can make a big difference.”
Notes: The 28-year-old Hejda was drafted by Buffalo in 2003, but decided to play in Europe instead. … The Oilers have won only four times in 14 games. … Edmonton came in with the league’s best penalty-killing percentage on the road at .932 (7-for-103). The Kings were 0-for-5 with the man advantage. … Roloson received a delay-of-game penalty for playing the puck outside the trapezoid behind the net during an Oilers power play in the first period. … Garon, who had won five of six starts, is 1-6 in seven career games against Edmonton.