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 Saturday night, giving Jim Hiller a victory in his first game as an NHL head coach.
“This was a big win for us coming off 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 rest of the season after Todd McLellan was fired on Feb. 2. The Kings had only three wins in their last 17 games going into the All-Star break.
“We’ve had a tough stretch, so we’re just trying to get back to where we were. This isn’t about necessarily new. It’s just getting back there, and tonight was a good step,” said Hiller, who is the first Kings coach to win his NHL debut via shutout since Andy Murray in 1999.
It was Rittich’s fifth career shutout, and his first since Feb. 22, 2021, at Toronto when he was with the Calgary Flames.
The closest the Oilers came to scoring on Rittich was midway through the second period when Corey Perry’s shot hit the crossbar.
“We’ve never lost faith or trust 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 spot and be good.”
Pierre Luc-Dubois scored and Trevor Lewis had a goal for the second straight game for Los Angeles, which jumped to 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 put in a rebound at 7:06 and added an empty-net tally at 17:18. The Kings forward, who was the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, has 16 goals on the season.
Stuart Skinner made 22 saves for Edmonton, which has dropped two of three since a 16-game winning streak that was one shy of tying the NHL record.
“I think the first game against Vegas (on Tuesday) was probably our best game. We won the second game (Friday night at Anaheim). This was probably one of those games that we were finding ways to win during this streak and tonight there just wasn’t enough,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said.
Midway through a Kings power play in the second period, Dubois ripped a snap shot from the left faceoff circle that Skinner was unable to get his blocker on and went into the far side of the net at 2:38. It was the 11th goal of the season and second in the past nine games for Dubois, who was acquired in a trade during the offseason and signed an eight-year, $68 million contract.
Lewis then got a great pass from Byfield and finished off a 2-on-1 rush 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.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl