Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings – March 30, 2012
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wasted no time getting the puck to the net in tonight’s game against the Stars, forcing Jonathan Quick to make his first save only twenty seconds in. Nugent-Hopkins is tied for 2nd in rookie scoring with Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog (both 49 points), right behind Adam Henrique of the New Jersey Devils (50 points). Remember, he’s played substantially less games than both of them this season. Edmonton’s youngest Ryan couldn’t open the scoring that early, but the Stars could.
At 0:52, Anze Kopitar managed to get the puck through traffic and Oilers goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to put the visitors up by one. Seconds later, Matt Greene was called for hooking on Ryan Smyth, and the Edmonton’s second-best power play went to work. That’s when Jordan Eberle scored his tenth power play goal this year off of a tic-tac-toe play from Jeff Petry and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. LA went straight back to the Oilers net to pressure Khabibulin some more, but the score remained 1-1 with, yes, fifty-seven minutes left.
6:22 marked Sam Gagner’s holding penalty on which the Kings 23rd-ranked (no, that isn’t quite as impressive, you’re right) power play got their first chance of the night. A chance is all it was, though, because really, the Oilers’ penalty kill was just that much better than the Kings’ man advantage in that situation.
Anze Kopitar was assessed a tripping minor with just under ten minutes to go, and Edmonton was given another chance to better their power play. 43 seconds in, Willie Mitchell’s around-the-boards pass made it past Jeff Petry to Mike Richards, who sprung on a breakaway and backhanded the puck past Khabibulin for his second goal in his last thirty-two games. The rest of the penalty was killed off, along with the next few minutes, without a change in scoring.
It wasn’t until 18:25 that Ryan Jones was sent to the box for roughing after former Oiler Jarret Stoll got a shoulder in Jones’ face; Jones retaliated by knocking Stoll’s helmet off and was given the two-minute minor. The Kings couldn’t capitalize on the power play in the first, but needn’t worry as they were set to start the second period with one extra man on the ice. It was a well-needed break for the Oilers, who hadn’t recorded a single shot since Jordan Eberle’s goal at 1:34.