EDMONTON, Canada — After the first three games of a four-game trip, the Kings still haven't found their way into the win column.
But in ending a two-game losing streak Thursday night with a 2-2 tie against the Edmonton Oilers in front of 16,839 in the Skyreach Centre, they found their special teams, scoring a power-play goal and easily killing five penalties.
And more important, perhaps, they may have found themselves.
"The main thing is, we played the game we wanted to play tonight," defenseman Mathieu Schneider said. "After two games where we really felt we weren't ourselves, that was fairly important.
"It's been a rough road trip for us, but that's the way we were playing before the trip, and it's good to see us get back to that same type of hockey."
Ziggy Palffy and Mikko Eloranta scored goals and the checking line of Eloranta, Brad Chartrand and Ian Laperriere shut out the top Oiler line of Mike Comrie, Ryan Smyth and Anson Carter, which had generated 29 points in 10 games.
On the negative side, the Kings twice gave up one-goal leads. But after consecutive 4-0 losses at Phoenix and Vancouver, in which they failed to score in 11 power-play opportunities and gave up four power-play goals, they weren't about to quibble with a result that put them one point closer to the playoffs and ended the Oilers' season-best six-game winning streak.
"Even though we got just a tie," Coach Andy Murray said, "we wanted our players to take some satisfaction out of this game to know that's how we have to play. Sometimes it's not the wins and losses that are most important.
"It's how you play, and I thought we played pretty well."
The Kings, in losing consecutive games for the first time since November, had failed to match the intensity of their previous two opponents.
"When you play these games, you always worry about what you're going to do, your game plan," King captain Mattias Norstrom said before the game, "but you've also got to realize, looking at the whole picture, we're not the only team that's fighting to get into the playoffs.
"You have other teams with a lot of emotion in their dressing rooms and a lot of guys that are going to put it on the line every night.
"When you have so many teams that are pretty much on the same level, it comes down to which team will give that little extra. We're going to be facing desperate teams pretty much every night, in pretty much every building we go into."
The most recent band of desperadoes in the Kings' path was the Oilers, whose coach, Craig MacTavish, told Edmonton reporters beforehand that this was the most desperate game his team had faced all season.
Upon hearing that, Murray grinned and said: "This is the most desperate game they'll play until the next game. That's exactly the way it is."
With Smyth in the penalty box for obstruction hooking, Palffy gave the Kings the lead midway through the first period with his 13th power-play goal and 28th goal overall.
When Oiler goaltender Tommy Salo failed to cover the rebound of a shot from the left point by Schneider, Adam Deadmarsh pounced on the puck in the slot and slipped a pass to Palffy, who netted a shot from the right faceoff circle.
It was the Kings' first goal since the second period of Saturday's 3-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks, ending a drought of 155 minutes 59 seconds.
Defenseman Janne Niinimaa pulled the Oilers even with 1:43 to play in the first period, slapping a rebound of his own shot over a pile of players sprawled in the slot, the puck trickling between the legs of King goaltender Felix Potvin.
Only 42 seconds into the second period, Eloranta put the Kings ahead again with his seventh goal, ripping a shot from the right circle that caromed off the bottom of the crossbar and into the net past a startled Salo.
Thirty-nine seconds into the third period, the Oilers tied the score again after Mike Grier blocked a clearing attempt by Potvin as he circled behind the King net, kept control of the puck and fed a pass in front to Ethan Moreau.
Moreau, all alone in the slot, banged home his 11th goal.
"We gave up that goal in the first shift and you could have a situation where you collapse after that," Murray said. "But I thought we came right back and didn't give them anything.
"That's the way we've played. We've been pretty resilient."
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