The Edmonton Oilers (1-1-0) were in Los Angeles for Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Friday night. Edmonton absolutely smashed the Kings (1-1-0) in game 2, hanging a half dozen on veteran G Jonathan Quick thanks to one of their most complete performances of the season. Edmonton was sterling on Wednesday night, with every Oiler sporting a ~53% xGF or better. Mike Smith backed up his charges with a 30-save shutout, too. Could Edmonton back up one of their best games in recent (and not-so-recent) memory with another complete effort under the bright lights of LA?
Edmonton started brightly as Jay Woodcroft opted to start with Connor McDavid’s line, then follow up with Leon Draisaitl’s, then follow that up with Connor McDavid’s again in the first two minutes. But then Zack Kassian hopped over the boards, and the Oilers — predictably — had to do some defending. A scramble in front of Mike Smith led to Brendan Lemieux dry humping Brett Kulak in the slot, with each getting a roughing penalty for their participation.
The first minute of 4v4 was uneventful, but then McDavid and Draisaitl hopped on together and opened the scoring. Adrian Kempe tried to take Duncan Keith wide but couldn’t beat Smith. The resulting loose puck found Draisaitl and he keyed a McDavid rush before joining him to create a 2v1. Then McDavid did what he does: played a saucy little pass to exactly and precisely where Draisaitl wanted it and The Great Doctor made no mistake. 1-0. LFG.
Shortly thereafter, Connor McDavid drew a penalty on Trevor Moore while actively taking a penalty on Trevor Moore. GOAT shit. The icing on top? McDavid set up Zach Hyman for the Oilers’ second goal of the game mere moments later. Another perfect pass. Another primary assist. A tap in for Hyman. 2-0. LFG.
LA started to push back after the PPG, drawing a penalty of their own on Evan Bouchard just before the halfway mark of the period. LA tested Smith a few times with the man advantage, but he stood tall. Still, after the successful PK, the Oilers had given up 13 SOGs in about 11 minutes. Not great, but the 2-0 lead helped take the edge off.
The Kings continued to press for a couple of shifts after their PP, but couldn’t get a goal for their efforts. Still, they held Edmonton without a shot attempt for almost five minutes before the top line of McDavid, Evander Kane, and Jesse Puljujarvi righted the visitors’ ship momentarily.
It didn’t last. The Kings regained the initiative and drew another penalty, this time through Brett Kulak. Smith again stood tall, particularly to stave off an Anze Kopitar one-timer from Kenny Loggins’ front porch, and the Oilers escaped unscathed.
It should be noted that Darnell Nurse went down the tunnel for a few minutes toward the end of the period, but he returned before the buzzer went. Two goals to the good, but the Oilers were outshot 7-19 in the first period. Sure, a lot of the shots were from the outside, BUT, I’d prefer if a lot of the shots were from the Edmonton Oilers. Maybe that’s just me.
The Oilers were much better to start Period 2. Edmonton carried the play for the first couple of shifts before the Kings stabilized for a few minutes. But the Oilers were undeterred, and eventually were rewarded for their persistence. A clearing attempt by some King I don’t care enough about to rewind and identify hit Cody Ceci up high as he was turning to retrieve it. He reacted well, turning and firing on goal almost immediately, where Kane was involved in front. He either got a piece, or did enough to throw Quick off, and then tucked the backhand home as he was falling down. 3-0. LFG.
Moments later, the Oilers struck again. Leon Draisaitl made a nice play in the neutral zone to spring Zach Hyman, and Hyman did the rest: he leaned into his defender, took it to the high slot, and ripped one over Quick’s right shoulder. 4-0. LFG. That one marked the end of Jonathan Quick’s night. His walking down the tunnel — presumably to cry — gave me life.
Just over two minutes after that, the Oilers scored another one. Another phenomenal shift from the top line — one of many for that trio on this night — saw the puck work back to Cody Ceci at the right point once again. And, once again, his shot wasn’t handled cleanly by the LA goaltender — this time Cal Peterson. And, once again again, Evander Kane was there to poke home the rebound. 5-0. LFG.
From there, LA found some pushback. Finally. Was it a coincidence that it started to come as Jay Woodcroft opted to gear down the top lines’ ice a little bit and throw Josh Archibald and Zack Kassian out a little more frequently?
I doubt it.
Anyway, they found two goals in the latter stages of the second period. Kopitar at the halfway mark and Danault on the PP with less than 3 minutes remaining. Otherwise though, who cares how they happened? Not me. They also drew another penalty with less than a minute to go, but they couldn’t find another goal before the end of the period. 5-2 after 40 minutes.
LA started the third with a power play but they couldn’t close the gap further. Edmonton’s PK fought it off and then the Oilers resumed beating LA’s ass at 5v5. For a few shifts at least. Once again, Jay Woodcroft opted to give 15 and 44 some ice time, and once again the Oilers suffered for it.
But not, like, suffered suffered. In fact, they traded punches with the Kings for a few minutes before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins decided to put down his Math 31 homework for a second and give the Oilers some insurance. After doing some dirty work, fighting off a few checkers and keeping the puck in the Kings’ zone, he chose to keep it and take it to the hole himself. His stick evaporated as he went to shoot, but the broken bat single fooled Peterson and snuck through him. 6-2. LFG.
81 seconds later, RNH struck again. This time, Josh Archibald — yes, you read that right — found him with a nifty little spinning pass and RNH made no mistake. 7-2. LFG.
Exactly 4 minutes after that, with a mere 20 seconds remaining on the game clock, Evander Kane completed his hat trick after a lovely piece of play from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the tail end of an extended PP (including a brief 5v3) that the Oilers couldn’t cash in on. No matter. 8-2. LFG. And also yikes.
The Oilers have outscored the Kings 14-2 in the last 6 periods.
Fourteen. To two.
That was Edmonton’s expected goals for at 5v5 (per Natural Stat Trick) despite taking the lead less than 4 minutes into the first period.
LA will try to dress its many and very salted wounds in time for Game 4 on Sunday night. LFG.