LOS ANGELES -- Noah Clarke became the first native Southern Californian to score a goal for the Los Angeles Kings. The assists were credited to Dustin Brown and Jaroslav Modry, but the primary credit should go to Wayne Gretzky and the Anaheim Ducks.
Outside the Kings' dressing room, was the man who signed Clarke to his first NHL contract.
"I think it's just a matter of time when we're going to see a lot of California-born players in the National Hockey League," said former Kings general manager Dave Taylor, now the team's director of amateur development. "I've been watching a lot of amateur games, junior games and college games this year, and it seems like every team's got a kid from Southern California."
Clarke, from La Verne, was the first Southern California-born player in the Kings' 40-year history. Left wing Gabe Gauthier, called up Saturday from Manchester, is the second. He was born in Torrance. There have been 19 Southern Californians in the NHL.
"I think it's the Gretzky effect," Taylor said. "It started when Wayne came here in the late 1980s. I mean, if you look at the number of rinks that we had then compared to today, I'd say we went from a handful of rinks to maybe 25 in the greater L.A. area. So that just means there's a lot more kids playing."
Clarke opened the scoring in his 15th NHL game and fourth since getting recalled from the AHL. The 27-year-old left wing used defenseman Danny Syvret as a screen and beat Jussi Markkanen to the glove side with a wrist shot from the middle of the left circle at 2:05.
Clarke understands that he is one of a select few and realizes what odds he's overcome to get to the NHL.
"I remember going to pee wee and bantam tournaments and people kind of sneered and said, 'Aw, California kids can't play hockey.' It's still not a hotbed, but I think you see more and more California kids coming up now," Clarke said. "When the Mighty Ducks started out, all these rinks started popping up in Orange County. So it just led to more ice time for California kids to play."
Michael Cammalleri had two goals, and Rob Blake had a power-play tally and two assists to help Garon win for the first time in seven starts. Alexander Frolov also scored and Lubomir Visnovsky had three assists for the Kings, who snapped a five-game losing streak. Garon made 26 saves.
Edmonton's skid is three games shy of the franchise record, set during the 1993-94 season. The Oilers, who came within one victory of winning the Stanley Cup last June, have played their last three games with just 17 skaters due to the absence of 10 players including Ales Hemsky, Marty Reasoner, Petr Nedved, Steve Staios and Jan Hejda.
The Oilers had never begun a month with more than five straight losses since joining the NHL in 1979. They have been outscored 32-6 and are 0-for-22 on the power play during this streak, which began one game before they traded Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders.
"I'm not saying we're snake-bit. It's a product of what we have on the ice right now," coach Craig MacTavish said. "We're having a hard time getting the shots through from the back end and we aren't giving ourselves a chance to get lucky. It's just frustrating."
Markkanen, benched by MacTavish on Friday after allowing a goal on the first shot he faced, surrendered two goals on the Kings' first three shots. Frolov scored his 34th goal at 5:27 of the first on a rebound after Markkanen stopped Aaron Miller's slap shot.
Markkanen skated back to the bench after giving up Clarke's goal, but only to change sticks. He stopped the next 17 shots before Cammalleri beat him high to the glove side with a short wrist shot at 9:39 of the second period for a 3-1 lead. Cammalleri capped the scoring with his 29th goal on a power play with 4:13 remaining.
Peterson trimmed the Kings' lead to 2-1 at 10:32 of the first, scoring his third career short-handed goal on a breakaway. The Oilers have scored two goals in the past three games -- both short-handed.
- The Oilers haven't scored more than four goals in their last 48 regular-season road games since beating the Kings 5-3 on Jan. 26, 2006. They have scored four or fewer in all but two of their last 30 games overall.
- Edmonton had allowed only 18 power-play goals in 169 short-handed situations on the road coming in, the best percentage in the league.