Every year the series gets shorter, Oilers send the Kings home in Game 5

Oilers beat Kings in NHL Playoffs
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
2 days ago
The hardest game to win in any playoff series is the fourth one that knocks the other side into the off-season, and on Wednesday night at Rogers Place, the Edmonton Oilers had the chance to do precisely that when they returned home from L.A. up 3-1 in their series against the Kings. Despite a few bumps in the road, the Oilers got the job done with a nail-biting 4-3 finish that saw three different lead chances and a last-minute push that had all of us on the edge of our seats. What a hockey game.


My favourite part of last night’s game was how the Los Angeles Kings kept trying to play like rats and how they kept getting thrown in the box every time they did. It was like their entire game plan in the second period was to try and tire the Oilers’ power play out or something. I know the rope-a-dope was Ali’s thing in boxing back in the day, but it was not a very wise tactic for the Kings to deploy against a PP unit as lethal as ours.
Not to be outdone, the Oilers’ penalty kill was perfect through five games. That’s incredible. The L.A. Kings ranked 12th in the league on the PP in the regular season with a 22.6% success rate, but they couldn’t even get a sniff of success against the Oilers. Instead, Edmonton did an excellent job of keeping the Kings to the perimeter and limiting their ability to generate much from the slot. Even when they did get their chances, our boys were fantastic at making sure Skinner didn’t have to stop more than one shot.
At the end of the day, the Oilers could get the job done at both ends of the rink, whereas the Kings couldn’t even get close. This series taught me that you never know when the refs will call something or what their line will be from period to period, but when you get the chance on the man advantage, you have to make the most of it. The Oilers were able to do that. L.A. couldn’t match. That’s life in the playoffs, baby, and running up against Edmonton’s PP is a dangerous game to play.


Wednesday night was the kind of night when the Oilers needed their big dogs to step up and make a difference, and I thought Leon Draisaitl was fantastic in Game 5. After last night’s game, Draisaitl was asked about the series and what made this year’s edition of the Oilers different from the ones that beat the Kings over the past two years.
“I think we’re probably a better team this year than we were last year or the year before. We’re more mature, which plays a big part sometimes. But that’s a really good team over there. They make it hard on you. It’s an absolute grind against them every night and hats off to the way that they compete and play the game. That being said, obviously, we did a really good job of getting our minds ready for that and just mentally being ready for the challenge.”
I love everything Leon said here, and I agree entirely that the Oilers looked like a more seasoned team against the Kings this year than they had in the past. What was most noticeable to me was how our side basically ignored all of the extra noise that happened after whistles to try and get them off their game. I also thought that Leon Draisaitl’s success at big moments like the ones last night was a perfect example of battling through L.A.’s nonsense without getting frustrated.


I just quickly want to say how much fun it is to beat the Los Angeles Kings in the first round over the last few years. They’re such an annoying team to play against — Gord knows they’re as dirty as it gets in this league — so knowing that our boys handled them for the third straight year is pretty hilarious. Thanks, L.A. Kings. Watching you lose gets more fun every year.
I personally enjoy thinking about how the Oilers keep beating the Kings in fewer and fewer games with each passing series. In 2022, it took the Oilers seven games to move past them. Last year, it was six games. This year, it’s five. If I’m the L.A. Kings then the move might be to miss the playoffs next year because the last thing they’ll want to do is meet us again only to get swept. No matter what angle I think about, I can’t help but chuckle out loud to myself.
Of course, it’s also important to remember that beating a pretty mediocre Los Angeles Kings team means that we’re only 1/4 of the way through the much bigger task at hand. We’re eating an elephant here, people, and we’re only a few bites into the process. Even though I thought the Oilers should spend their night celebrating on Wednesday, no one will be satisfied with just making it through the first round, and I hope the boys take the next few days to rest up in anticipation of what’s to come.


-Evander Kane opened the scoring for the Oilers on a nifty little backhander from in tight and continued what has been an excellent first round for #91. After starting the post-season down in the lineup, Kane quickly worked his way up to the second line with Draisaitl and RNH, and I can’t see him going anywhere if he keeps playing as well as he has. The big man was hitting, he was crashing, he was annoying without crossing the line, and all that was over and above the two goals he scored at key moments.
-Stuart Skinner only gave up a single goal in the two games in Los Angeles, and the Oilers were going to need him to stay dialled in if they were going to wrap things up in five. And just as he’s done over the last couple of games, Stu gave his teammates enough saves to ultimately win the game. I’m not saying he was perfect — I know an .857 save% will bring the haters out — but he was easily the best of the three goaltenders who played in this series.
-How about Evan Bouchard casually wrapping up his night with three more assists on the pile, finishing the first round with one goal and eight assists for nine points. What a stud this guy is.
-Even though he only played 13:04 in Game 5, I thought Brett Kulak had a whale of a game that saw him do an excellent job of picking his spots to jump up in the play or stay back and defend. I love the way he plays defence, and I thought he’s been incredibly underrated by folks outside of Edmonton so far in these playoffs.
-If I’m going to nitpick the win, Blake Lizotte’s goal probably wouldn’t have happened if Darnell Nurse hadn’t pinched while his teammates were completing a long line change in the second period. Yes, it was a nice pass by Arvidsson, but that lane isn’t even there with a more conservative defensive play.
-What the hell was that goal off the stanchion? Given the point in the period at which it happened, I’d prefer Stu to probably stay in the net, but that was as flukey as it gets. Coincidentally, that same thing also happened in yesterday’s Islanders/Hurricanes game, so maybe the conservative approach might be best when the puck is rimming around the glass. Way she goes.
-I just want to say how happy I am for the Kings that they traded assets aways to sign Pierre-Luc Dubois longterm. Great trade. Great use of assets and cap space. I love it.
-How did the Oilers fare in the face off circle? I thought you’d never ask. Unfortunately, I’m disappointed to report that our boys won only 41.4% of the draws they took. I’m sad about it, but it’s also my job to tell the truth.
-How’s that for a killer instinct? Now, we wait.


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