EDMONTON – Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll weren’t around to haunt their former team, so Matt Greene stepped in as an unlikely substitute.
Greene scored the game-winner as the Los Angeles Kings halted a two-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over the slumping Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. Wayne Simmonds had a goal and an assist and Alexander Frolov added an empty-netter for the Kings (14-9-2).
The game was tied 1-1 after the second period when Greene, a former Oiler acquired by the Kings in the trade for defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky, scored with less than five minutes remaining. Greene beat Oilers starter Jeff Deslauriers with a point shot high to the stick side for his first of the season and just fourth of his career.
“That was a big one,” Greene said. “Mind you, any goal for me is a big one. They don’t come too often.
“It was a good feeling to get a game-winner against my old team. I was just trying to shoot it hard. I had no idea where it was going.”
Simmonds said the Kings outworked the Oilers, despite missing two key offensive weapons in Smyth (upper-body) and Stoll (lower-body).
“We had two games at home that we lost where we didn’t work as hard as we should have so that was our goal tonight, to come in and play a solid 60 minutes,” he said. “I think we did that and it was a big character win for us.”
Ryan Potulny responded for the Oilers (10-12-3), who have won just four of their last 16 games.
“It was one of those games that was up there for grabs by one of the two teams and they got it and they didn’t,” said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn. “We played just poorly enough to not win it and they played just well enough to win it. They’re going home with two points and we are sucking wind.”
Oilers forward Sam Gagner believes there were at least a couple positives in the loss.
“For the most part we played well,” he said. “There were lulls in the game we didn’t step up in and we allowed them to take control of those. But we are taking steps on the right direction and we have to continue to get better and try to right the ship.”
Edmonton nearly opened the scoring with seven minutes to play in the first period. Oilers forwards Ethan Moreau and Shawn Horcoff crashed the net, and although the puck crossed the line, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick was ruled to have been pushed into the net with it.
Edmonton struck first five minutes later, as Sheldon Souray’s point-blast was tipped home by Potulny.
Los Angeles outshot Edmonton 12-8 in the first but Deslauriers stood his ground in his fourth consecutive start in place of Nikolai Khabibulin (back spasms).
The Kings tied the game 6 1/2 minutes into the second on a suspect goal, as Simmonds took a shot from the top of the face-off circle that seemed to freeze Deslauriers.
Edmonton suffered a blow shortly after, as star forward Ales Hemsky was drilled into the boards by Michal Handzus. Hemsky suffered an upper-body injury on the hit and did not return.
“He got hit earlier in the game as well but this one was full force into the boards,” Quinn said. “It was a hard hit and he got himself hurt. I don’t know how long he will be out. But it’s not real positive right now.”
The Kings held a 25-15 shot advantage after 40 minutes.
Los Angeles plays in Vancouver on Thursday while the Oilers finish off their season-high five-game homestand against San Jose on Friday.
Notes: It was the first meeting between the two teams this year. Last season they split four one-goal games. The Kings won both games in Edmonton. … The Oilers, who lead the league in man-games lost to injury, may be close to getting some players back. Ryan Stone (knee), Marc Pouliot (sports hernia) and Robert Nilsson (concussion) have all begun skating with the team. Taylor Chorney (ankle), Denis Grebeshkov (knee), Mike Comrie (mononucleosis), Fernando Pisani (colitis) and Khabibulin (back) are still out indefinitely. … Kings F Anze Kopitar, who owns a share of the league lead in scoring, has gone seven straight games without a goal.