Championship teams win the low-scoring games more often than not. The Los Angeles Kings have developed that pedigree over the past five seasons, and it helps to have Jonathan Quick in net.
Quick made 26 saves, and Jeff Carter and Dwight King scored in the third period to lead the Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
"We're grinding," defenceman Jake Muzzin said. "These are the kind of games you want to win now, so that when playoff time comes, you know how to do it. Obviously we'd like a few more goals, especially 5-on-5. We got two of them tonight, which was nice, so we just have to keep plugging away."
It was the third straight 2-1 win for Los Angeles, increasing its Pacific Division lead to four points over Anaheim. The Kings are 9-0-4 in games decided by that score.
Zack Kassian scored late in the second for the Oilers, who have lost six straight games and eight in a row at Staples Center going back to a 3-0 victory on Nov. 3, 2011. Cam Talbot stopped 34 shots.
Los Angeles is 16-1-2 in its last 19 meetings with the Oilers, who have the fewest points in the NHL. But the Kings insisted they didn't take Edmonton lightly. They lead the season series 4-0, and three of the games were decided by one goal.
"They have a lot of skill up front," Muzzin said. "I mean, if you let them hang around in a game, they have guys who can capitalize on one or two rushes. So you have to be physical and take away their time and space. I thought we did a good job of that."
Carter tied it with 14:33 left in the third, poking the puck past a sprawling Talbot for his 15th goal after the goalie stopped Tyler Toffoli's 25-foot wrist shot and his ensuing rebound attempt.
"We just started to play," Carter said. "The first two periods were not good, so we knew we had to get our game going. We did and, we created chances. Thank God Quickie showed up and won it for us, because it could have been ugly. Maybe it's a good reminder for us of how hard it is and how hard it's going to be."
King added his sixth of the season and first game-winner with 5:50 to play, redirecting a long wrist shot by Carter.
"We weren't very good in the first, then we kind of got it going in the second," Muzzin said. "We just had to connect the defence with the forwards. And once we got pucks in, played the cycle game and got pucks toward the net, we created a lot of opportunities. And we capitalized on two of them."
The game was still scoreless when Quick stopped Jordan Eberle's 25-foot wrist shot from the right circle with his outstretched right leg, then dove toward the left post to make a stop on rookie Connor McDavid's rebound attempt with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the second period.
"He definitely won us this game," Muzzin said. "He made some big saves early on and continued to throughout the game. We just have to prepare a little bit better going into these games so we won't have to force him to have to make those big saves."
Kassian put the Oilers in front at 18:55, using defenceman Luke Schenn as a screen and beating Quick to the stick side with a 25-foot wrist shot from the slot after getting the puck from Taylor Hall at the top of the left circle.
"We had four lines that were giving us everything they had," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "They weren't perfect, but the desire and the will to try and push was a lot stronger than it's been over the last several games.
"So I give the leaders in the room credit, and I give the rest of the players in the room credit for responding appropriately. Now, can we turn that into a win or two? That's the next step. But we've established a bit of a work ethic again, which was much-needed. It was a team effort tonight."
NOTES: Four days before the NHL trade deadline, Edmonton RW Teddy Purcell was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. That leaves Hall and C Mark Letestu as the only Oilers to play in all 62 games. . Quick is 18-1-5 against Edmonton. ... The teams conclude their season series March 26 at Los Angeles. The Kings have never swept a five-game season set from the Oilers. ... Edmonton is 6-24-3 when scoring fewer than three goals. All the wins have come in overtime or a shootout. ... Hall has six goals in his last 32 games after getting the game-winner in consecutive games against the Sabres, Sharks and Rangers.