Mike Richards and Jeff Carter each scored first-period goals to back a 23-save effort from Jonathan Quick in the Los Angeles Kings' 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center.
Carter added an assist on Richards' early score to help the Kings improve to 5-1-1 over their last seven games and move past idle San Jose for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference. Slava Voynov potted a power-play goal in the win, which fellow defenseman Drew Doughty sealed with an empty-net tally with 48.7 seconds left to play.
Edmonton, on the other hand, had its chances to end a run of six consecutive seasons without reaching the playoffs compromised. The loss, the club's second straight after a season-high five-game win streak, kept the Oilers three points behind St. Louis for the eighth spot in the West with the Blues holding two games in hand.
"What we've done for the last five games is not going to be good enough for the next 10," said Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk. "We need points."
Magnus Paajarvi scored on the power play for Edmonton's lone goal, with Dubnyk stopping 35-of-38 shots in the setback.
The Kings managed just seven shots on Dubnyk in the opening period, but connected on two of those chances to take a comfortable lead into the first intermission.
Los Angeles wasted little time moving in front, with Carter forcing a turnover in the Edmonton zone and feeing Richards for a screaming one-timer that found the back of the net just 1:38 into the contest.
"We used our speed today," said Carter. "We got off to a good start and it set the tone."
The Kings capitalized on a hooking penalty to Jordan Eberle to build a 2-0 advantage later in the frame, as Carter knocked home a well-placed behind-the- net pass from Dustin Brown with 4:25 remaining for his West-leading 22nd goal of the season.
Edmonton cashed in on a man-advantage opportunity of its own early in the second to cut the deficit in half. With LA's Kyle Clifford in the box for a hooking infraction, Paajarvi was initially stopped by Quick from in close, but the young Swede banged in the resulting loose puck into an open right side with 2:18 elapsed in the middle stanza.
The Kings dominated play over the duration of the period, however, putting up 17 shots to the Oilers' five during the 20-minute segment and converting another power-play chance to restore a two-goal differential.
Voynov did the honors with 8:21 left in the session, taking a no-look back pass from Justin Williams and sending a low drive that slipped by an outstretched Dubnyk to make the score 3-1.
Los Angeles successfully killed off a hooking call to Doughty midway through the third period to keep the margin at two, and Doughty ended any Oiler comeback hopes by firing a puck Edmonton lost possession of near center ice into the vacated net in the final minute.
After going 0-for-10 on the power play in their first two meetings with the Oilers this season, the Kings finished 2-for-5 with the man advantage ... Williams had a string of five straight outings with at least one goal halted, but now has six markers and one assist over a six-game point streak ... Los Angeles improved to 16-1-2 when scoring first this season and 11-1-0 when leading after one period ... Center Jerred Smithson, acquired by Edmonton from Florida at Wednesday's trade deadline, made his Oilers' debut.