FINAL – Kings 4, Oilers 0 – Byfield, Dubois, Rittich, Hiller

The LA Kings came out of the NHL All-Star break with a 4-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday evening at Arena.

After neither team found the back of the net in the first period, the Kings scored twice in less than a minute to open up a two-goal lead early in the second period.

First, with the hosts skating on the power play, defenseman Jordan Spence held the zone at the center point and fed forward Pierre-Luc Dubois in the right-hand circle, with the latter firing inside the blocker arm of Edmonton netminder Stuart Skinner to open the scoring. Just 49 seconds later, the Kings doubled their advantage through forward Trevor Lewis. Forward Quinton Byfield stole the puck in the defensive zone, led a 2-on-1 rush the other way and fed Lewis through the slot, with the veteran burying for the second straight game and a 2-0 advantage.

Early in the third period, the Kings extended their lead to three goals as Byfield picked up his first goal and second point of the evening. Off a shift spent deep in the offensive zone, the puck worked up to defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov at the point. Gavrikov’s shot was kicked aside by Skinner, but Byfield collected and buried the rebound for his 15th goal of the season and a 3-0 advantage.

With the goaltender pulled late in the third period, Byfield buried his second goal of the evening to seal the deal with a 4-0 victory. The goal completed a three-point night for Byfield.

Hear from Byfield, Dubois, Kings netminder David Rittich and Head Coach Jim Hiller following the win over Edmonton.

Quinton Byfield
On the importance of coming out of the break with a victory

It was a really big win for our team. In recent years, they’ve knocked us out of the playoffs twice, so that’s a big win for us, coming off the coaching change as well. I think we all played for each other tonight, I think all had a lot of fun and it was a big win for us.

On making a strong defensive play to lead into his assist on the team’s second goal
Yeah, I think playing defense is very important, I think it’s kind of built into our identity as well. We’ve got a lot of two-way guys who really care about the defensive end, so I was just trying to do my part contribute on that side. I think the puck kind of flipped off, I kind of lost it and then I saw it, I think it was Connor who had it there and I just tried to make a quick stick check before he got around me, it ended up working out. I got the puck, I saw Lewie flying down other side and I wanted to reward him for his good effort there and just tried to make the pass over to him, it was an unbelievable finish by him. Even last game in Nashville too unbelievable finishes.

On any sort of a different message from Jim Hiller since he’s assumed the head-coaching role
Todd was really good, just for myself, he’s a great hockey mind and I’m sure he’s going to get another coaching opportunity, but it was just, we needed a little spark in here, something new, a different voice. Todd, he was amazing to me and my career, he built it, so much respect on that end. Jimmy came in here, took us over, he only had two practices with us, but, he showed great leadership as a coach. As you saw out there, we’re playing for each other, we’re blocking shots, Ritter played unbelievable. So, we’re all behind him right now and that’s the vibe we need.

Pierre-Luc Dubois
On tonight’s performance and coming out of the break with a big win

Since we’ve been back, it’s not going to be easy, we’ve been through ups and downs, but it’s time to have fun again, it’s fun to come to the rink with a smile on our faces. Excited to get back on the ice for practice, excited to get back on the ice for games. We’re together, there’s no doubt in here. The last 20 games haven’t been the way we’ve wanted them to go, but there’s no absolutely no doubt in here. We know what kind of team we have and when we play together and when we do what we can do, we’re a hell of a team and we showed that tonight, but that’s just the start for us. There’s a lot of hockey left.

On his performance tonight and his challenge in coming back off the break
Coming back from a break, I think I probably lost 12 pounds tonight. Yeah, it’s never easy. We went on the ice two or three times to get back but the coaching staff here, the first day I got back, they challenged me, they challenged me to be a better player out there and to be a difference maker. That can come with scoring goals, assists but it could also come with hits, drawing penalties, all the the things that maybe not everybody notices. Since they’ve come in, their message is that I can do a lot better and I knew that, but to have it laid out like that, it’s a fun challenge to do.

On not only maintaining a lead tonight but building upon the lead with the third goal
Yeah, it was huge. I’ve heard the three-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey, but a two-goal lead or a one-goal lead is a lot worse than that. To get that third goal, Ritter was playing so well for us, and kept it at a two-goal game. That third goal, I think, changes everything. Then they pull the goalie with, five, six minutes left and their top guys are out there for the last four minutes of the game. They’re great players, but anybody playing a four-minute shift is tired at the end of it. So, that changed everything. I’m not going to lie, everybody on the bench was a little scared at the end for the fourth one, but they got it done and then that was pretty much game over.

David Rittich
On the team’s confidence proving itself in tonight’s win

I know the guys were buzzing and we know we’re a good hockey team, we know that. We just went through a tough stretch and sometimes it’s hard. It’s just like, finally we’re back again, and again, you’re working and can find a way to win. We never lost faith or trust in ourselves, we know we’re good players, a good hockey club, and we can win.

On the team recharging the batteries over the All-Star break after a grueling January
I mean, January was a stuffed up month, we played every other day, it was nice to have a couple of days off and just refresh ourselves, recharge and get back to the work. I think we did a step right in the right direction and we just have to keep building on it.

On the performance of the penalty kill in tonight’s win, against a strong PP unit
Yeah, since being up here, the penalty kill has been awesome, so it’s never changed and I don’t think it’s going to change. The guys do an unbelievable job of blocking the shots, taking care of backdoors and making they are making it easier for me.

Jim Hiller

Will upload Hiller’s full video once posted! But his entire media availability, following his first victory as the head coach of the LA Kings, is embedded above.

Notes –
– Pierre-Luc Dubois (1-0=1) scored his 11th goal of the season for his fourth power-play goal (PPG) of the campaign.
– Trevor Lewis (1-0=1) registered his seventh goal of the season, his 77th career goal as a member of the Kings. Lewis sits one goal shy of Brian Smolinski (78) for the sixth-most goals scored by a U.S.-born skater in franchise history.
– Quinton Byfield (2-1=3) notched a pair of goals and an assist, extending his point streak to a fifth game (4-4=8). This is Byfield’s second point streak of five games or more this season (6GP, 0-9=9), tying Adrian Kempe (2x) for the most such streaks by a Kings skater on the campaign. Byfield’s three points marked his ninth multi-point effort of the season, tied for second in the league this season by a skater 21 years of age or younger and trailing only Lucas Raymond (11). By logging the 69th, 70th, and 71st points of his career tonight, (24-47=71), Byfield becomes the 14th skater in Kings history to record at least 70 career points before turning 22 years old.
– Jordan Spence (0-1=1) tallied his 16th assist of the season, tying Drew Doughty for the most by a Kings defenseman this season.
– Trevor Moore (0-1=1) netted his 15th helper of the season, extending both his point and assist streak to three games (0-3=3).
– Matt Roy (0-1=1) picked up his 13th assist of the season and first career point against Edmonton. Roy’s 15th point on the season marks his fourth year with at least 15 points.
– Adrian Kempe (0-1=1) recorded his 27th assist of the season. Kempe has six points (3-3=6) in over his last five games against the Oilers, dating back to Jan. 9, 2023.
– Vladislav Gavrikov (0-1=1) and Anze Kopitar (0-1=1) each tallied assists. Gavrikov’s helper marked his first career point against the Edmonton Oilers.
– David Rittich stopped all 26 shots faced to record his fifth career shutout and first as a member of the Kings. Rittich joins Roman Cechmanek (5) as the only Czech-born goaltenders in Kings history to record a shutout.
– Interim head coach Jim Hiller became just the 18th different head coach in league history to make their coaching debut with the team that originally drafted them, and the first to do so since Phil Housley (6th overall, 1982) with Buffalo on Oct. 5, 2017. With tonight’s victory, Hiller is now just the sixth Kings head coach to record a win in his NHL head coaching debut and joined Andy Murray (2-0 at NSH on Oct. 2, 1999) as just the second to do so by means of a shutout.
– The Kings scored twice in a span of 49 seconds in the second period. It marked the sixth time LA has scored twice within a span of a minute this season (best: 0:12 on Oct. 19, 2023 at MIN).

The Kings are not scheduled to practice tomorrow, with a travel day to Buffalo in advance of an upcoming four-game roadtrip. The Kings will return to the ice for practice on Monday, 2/12, at 12:15 local time, 9:15 Pacific.

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