LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings snapped their longest losing streak of the season with a 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday at Staples Center.
Tyler Toffoli had two goals, Jeff Carter had one, and Milan Lucic had a career-high three assists as the Kings kept pace with the Anaheim Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division.
The Kings are seeking just their second ever division title and currently stand three points ahead of the Ducks for first place with seven games left in the NHL regular season.
Anaheim has a game in hand however, and the two teams will meet in 11 days in the fifth and final game of the Freeway Series between the two Southern California rivals.
The Ducks lead the head-to-head matchup this season three games to one, and will need a victory on Thursday, April 6, to leapfrog Los Angeles in the standings and potentially steal home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
If the playoffs started today, the Kings would secure the second seed in the Western Conference and face the Nashville Predators in the first round. A matchup on paper the Kings should win, but not necessarily ideal after the Predators tore the two-time Stanley Cup champions apart 5-2 last week.
The Kings wish they could play the Oilers in the first round instead as they swept the five-game series this season with their victory on Saturday. Edmonton however seems destined for another last-place finish in the Pacific Division, and a first round pick in the upcoming NHL draft.
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Los Angeles will look to win as many of their final seven games as they can in hopes of securing enough points to win the Pacific Division or perhaps the Western Conference overall. In addition to the wins and losses, the Kings need to start playing winning hockey again to gain momentum heading into the playoffs.
"We want to do those things, but I think at this point it's more important about how you're playing," said defenseman Rob Scuderi. "You could be winning games, but if you're winning the wrong way, you're not doing yourself any favors if you think that's the right way to play."
The Kings improved their offense on Saturday after struggling in their three losses, but defense still remained a problem as they allowed four goals on just 29 shots to the minnows of the division.
"For us, it was a great job offensively to get the goals and make it count," forward Milan Lucic told the media. "But on the other end, we've got to clean things up defensively, giving up too much goals in the last four games."
Scuderi knows that some of the defensive responsibilities rest solely on the shoulders of himself and veteran Drew Doughty. Something that both players believe they will shore up come playoff time.
"We're at the point now in the season when we're dotting the I's and crossing the T's," Scuderi added. "I think that's more important to me than just flat-out results. We want those results, but if we play that way (the right way), we'll get them."