The Edmonton Oilers (0-1) were back in action on Wednesday night for Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the visiting Los Angeles Kings (1-0). LA were winners in the series opener thanks to a late gaffe in crunch time by Mike Smith. Undeterred, Jay Woodcroft opted to go with Mike Smith once again, with Jonathan Quick obviously back in net for the Kings after a strong Game 1. Josh Archibald inexplicably drew back into the lineup, too. So, there was that. No changes (that I cared enough to look up at least) for LA. LFG.
Edmonton started well and got the better of 5v5 play for the first few minutes. LA’s first shot eventually came and actually managed to squeak through Mike Smith, but Darnell Nurse was able to clear it away from danger.
The game settled into more of an even affair for the next couple of shifts before Connor McDavid took a penalty for boarding Mikey “Don’t call me Mike or Michael” Anderson in the far corner. Anderson got up and performed a quick demonstration of textbook retaliatory cross-checking, but managed to dodge an offsetting minor. Darnell Nurse rushed in to have a discussion with Anderson, but Sean Durzi intercepted and they both sat for wrestling.
The Oilers PK was good enough. LA managed a couple of royal road passes but couldn’t really get anything from them and the Oilers survived it.
From there, Edmonton continued to do most of the imposing at 5v5 before Duncan Keith got the gate for cross-checking. This time, the PK was a little hairy, but once again the Oilers managed to get through it unscathed.
Despite the shakiness of the kill, it seemed to give the hosts momentum as Edmonton more or less dominated the remainder of the first period. Unfortunately, that dominance didn’t yield, but it was a good sign heading into the first intermission with the score still tied at 0-0.
Edmonton had an 81.6% xGF% after 20 minutes.
Former Oiler Andreas Athanasiou helped the Oilers cause in a big way by being shoved into the crease during Mike Smith’s big finale in Swan Lake 36 seconds in.
Edmonton’s vaunted powerplay hopped over the wall and went to work. Eventually, they found the game’s first goal. After zipping it around the LA zone for a good 45 seconds, Leon Draisaitl pounded one home from his corner office — the one with the wet bar and incredible view. It’s amazing he continues to score from there when everyone knows exactly where he hangs his hat. 1-0. LFG.
LA managed a couple of attempts in response but almost immediately found themselves shorthanded again. Unfortunately for us, Edmonton couldn’t find another PPG.
The Kings drew a penalty on the shift immediately following the Edmonton PP, but they couldn’t get anything going. It was arguably the Oilers best PK of the season. LA couldn’t even gain the Oilers zone for the first minute, and eventually Edmonton were rewarded.
Connor McDavid — on for the tail end of the PK — crossed the blue line before tossing a lovely wall-to-wall pass across to Darnell Nurse, whose shot ran up Arthur Kaliev’s blade and beat Quick over the left shoulder. 2-0. LFG.
After the power kill, the Oilers took over. LA had a shift of pushback here and there, but it was at Edmonton’s leisure. The home side were in total control.
Eventually, that domination told once again. A good shift from the fourth line of Ryan McLeod, Warren Foegele, and Zack Kassian culminated with an Evan Bouchard blast from the right point and a lovely little deflection from McLeod that completely fooled Quick. 3-0. LFG.
LA had a couple of half-chances as the second period came to a close, but Edmonton ran LA’s show for, conservatively, 16 of the 20 minutes and were full value for their big lead.
It took the Oilers 182 seconds to add even more insurance. Duncan Keith split the NZ with a pass from blue line to blue line that Evander Kane tipped into the zone. It took a funny bounce before Durzi flailed at it and batted it past Quick. 4-0. LFG.
Later in the same shift, Kane left it for McDavid, who sold Quick and fed a wide open Jesse Puljujarvi with a ton of net to shoot at and the King of Bisons made no mistake. 5-0. LFG.
From here, the game really settled down. Both teams knew this game was well and truly over, and the chances slowed to a crawl. That is, until Warren Foegele was hauled down in the OZ and the Oilers drew another penalty.
This time, the second unit got the start — a sure sign that the game was settled if there ever was one — and they took advantage of their opportunity. Evander Kane collected the puck at the right half wall, took a couple of steps toward the slot and fired one through his defender’s legs and past Quick’s left ear. 6-0.
After that one, the game was basically an expensive Skate-a-Thon. Both teams’ priority shifted from scoring goals to avoiding catastrophic injury.
Jesse Puljujarvi took a hooking penalty in garbage time but Edmonton’s PK was, again, resolute.
Brendan “Ugly Claude” Lemieux took a penalty with just over a penalty’s worth of minutes left for repeatedly punching Tyson Barrie. Again, Woodcroft opted to give the second unit some love, but they couldn’t get another one.
With about a minute left in regulation, the fans stood up to give the Oilers an ovation they deserved. Duncan Keith sat on it behind his own net for the last 30 or so seconds as the clock wound down.
What is there to add? The Oilers were excellent tonight and absolutely deserved to win. At times it felt like the Kings were getting bludgeoned out there. It felt like a must-win game and they must-won it. Mike Smith didn’t have to deal with a lot of danger, the Oilers were absolutely outrageous at 5v5 almost all night, and the series is tied at 1 with nobody getting hurt in a laugher. Fantastic. Good for Jonathan Quick to experience six goddamn goals whizzing by him, too. Wonderful stuff.
NOT A SINGLE OILER WAS BELOW 53.92% xGF%.
Game 3 in LA on Friday. LFG.