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WINNING STREAK SNAPPED AT TWO L.A. HAS YET TO WIN 3 STRAIGHT IN '06-07 EDMONTON 2, KINGS 1 (OT).

Byline: RICH HAMMOND Staff Writer

Considering the relative level of expectations, Edmonton is having a far worse season than the Kings.

It's no shock to see the Kings near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, given that this figured to be something of a painful rebuilding season, but the Oilers' fall has been a dramatic one.

Edmonton came within one victory of claiming the Stanley Cup last June, but seven months later, without Chris Pronger, they sat in 10th place and entered Monday with just one victory in their past seven games.

The Kings, on a bit of upswing of late, had a chance to win three consecutive games for the first time this season but lost to the Oilers 2-1 in overtime infront of an announced 16,224 at Staples Center.

Edmonton's Jan Hejda scored his first NHL goal 1:14 into overtime to end a game in which the Kings had an uneven effort. Goaltender Mathieu Garon was solid again, but the Kings slumbered for large parts of the night.

``In overtime, sometimes little mistakes can make the difference,'' said Garon, who made 27 saves.

Jarret Stoll scored a power-play goal 7:17 into the second period for a 1-0 Edmonton lead. The Kings tied the score 5:49 into the third period, when Konstantin Pushkarev scored his first NHL goal on a deflected shot.

The back-and-forth action continued into overtime, with neither team able to establish much of a flow.

``We've been talking about our starts,'' Kings captain Mattias Norstrom said. ``Tonight we came out good, but we let them back in the game in the second period for absolutely no reason. We got it into overtime with a chance but we need to be better for 60 minutes, not just at the start.''

Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson made 34 saves against an inconsistent Kings offense.

The Kings had won four of their past six games and scored 24 goals in that span, but too often against the Oilers any momentum they generated was stalled by penalties and mistakes in the offensive zone.

Edmonton's recent struggles seemed to provide a perfect opportunity for the Kings to reach a high-water mark. Four times now, the Kings have won back-to-back games, but in each instance have failed to win a third in a row. That level of inconsistency has kept the Kings near the bottom of the conference.

Of late, there have been signs of a revival, the best sign being the play of Garon.

Garon, who missed 12 games with a groin strain, had looked strong in his previous twogames, victories in which he stopped a combined 58 of 60shots, and the Oilers figured to provide a decent test.

Garon made a handful of tough saves and didn't give up a bad goal in either case.

``I feel good, I feel confident,'' Garon said. ``The guys are playing good in front of me, and I'm just trying to make some key saves in the game.''

The Kings got the better of the scoring chances in the first period, but neither team broke through.

The game's pace slowed considerably in the second period. Garon made a point-blank save on Marty Reasoner four minutes in and Sean Avery missed the net from close range two minutes later.

Finally, the Oilers broke through at the 7:17 mark, with Brian Willsie in the penalty box for hooking. Ales Hemsky made a cross-ice pass to Stoll, who blasted a slap shot to the top corner for a 1-0 lead.

The Kings were inches from tying it with five minutes left, when Avery and Alexander Frolov had a 2-on-1 break. With Roloson prone on the ice, Frolov tried to move the puck to his backhand but lost it.

rich.hammond@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3611

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photo

Photo:

Kings center Sean Avery hits the ice after getting tripped in front of Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson in the second period.

Mark Avery/Associated Press
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 9, 2007
Words:661
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Next Article:WINNING STREAK SNAPPED AT TWO L.A. HAS YET TO WIN 3 STRAIGHT IN '06-07 EDMONTON 2, KINGS 1 (OT).


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