Friday, February 23, 2024

Rittich gets shutout, Byfield scores twice as Kings beat Oilers 4-0 in Hiller’s debut as coach

LOS ANGELES– For at least one night, the Los Angeles Kings got the momentum they were looking for after a coaching change.

David Rittich stopped 27 shots for his first shutout in nearly three years, Quinton Byfield had two goals and an assist and the Kings beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 on Saturday night, giving Jim Hiller a victory in his first game as an NHL head coach.

“It was a big win for us after the break and the coaching change,” said Byfield, who has four goals and four assists in his last four games. “I think we all played for each other and had a lot of fun out there.”

Hiller was named interim coach for the remainder of the season following the firing of Todd McLellan on February 2. The Kings had just three wins in their last 17 games before the All-Star break.

“We’ve been through a tough time, so we’re just trying to get back to where we were. This is not necessarily new. It’s just getting back out there, and tonight was a good step,” said Hiller, who is the first Kings coach to win his NHL debut by shutout since Andy Murray in 1999.

It was Rittich’s fifth career shutout, and his first since February 22, 2021, in Toronto, while with the Calgary Flames.

The Oilers came closest to scoring on Rittich midway through the second period when Corey Perry’s shot hit the crossbar.

“We never lost confidence in ourselves. We know we have good players and we can win,” Rittich said. “I’m just trying to do my job, be in the right place and be good.”

Pierre Luc-Dubois scored and Trevor Lewis had a goal for the second straight game for Los Angeles, which took a 2-0 lead with goals in a 49-second span early in the second period.

Both of Byfield’s goals came in the third period. He grabbed a rebound at 7:06 and added an empty-net goal at 17:18. The Kings forward, who was the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, has 16 goals this season.

Stuart Skinner made 22 saves for Edmonton, which has lost two of three games since a 16-game winning streak came within touching distance of the NHL record.

“I think the first game against Vegas (Tuesday) was probably our best game. We won the second game (Friday night in Anaheim). It was probably one of those games where we were finding ways to win down that stretch and tonight there just weren’t enough of them,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said.

In the middle of a Kings power play in the second period, Dubois took a snap shot from the left faceoff circle that Skinner failed to place his blocker on and went to the other side of the net at 2 :38. It was the 11th goal of the season and second in the last nine games for Dubois, who was acquired in an offseason trade and signed to an eight-year, $68 million contract.

Lewis then received a great pass from Byfield and finished a 2-on-1 run with a wrist shot at 3:27 for his seventh.


Oilers: Host Detroit on Tuesday.

Kings: Begin a four-game road trip against Buffalo on Tuesday.



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