G4+ Game Notes: Oilers can take stranglehold on series with Kings

Edmonton Oilers Vincent Desharnais
Photo credit:© Yannick Peterhans-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
6 days ago
After picking up a commanding 6-1 victory in Los Angeles in Game 3, the Edmonton Oilers will look to take a 3-1 series lead over the Kings in Game 4 on Sunday.
1. The Oilers and Kings came out of Game 4 with the series tied at 2-2 in both of their first-round playoff meetings in the past two years. Can Edmonton change that this time around?
In 2022, the Oilers went up 2-1 following a lopsided 8-2 victory in Game 3 but the Kings came back in Game 4 with a 4-0 win. In 2023, the Kings had a three-goal lead in the first period of Game 4 and could have taken a 3-1 lead in the series but the Oilers battled back and won 5-4 in overtime.
That come-from-behind victory in 2023 was the turning point of the series for Edmonton, as they won the next two games by scores of 6-3 and 5-4 to clear through the Kings in six games. The Oilers would like to avoid having a repeat of 2022 when they took their foot off the gas and ultimately let the Kings drag the series to seven games.
Going back to Edmonton tied 2-2 with home-ice advantage in a three-game series wouldn’t be the end of the world for the Oilers, as they had the same situation in each of the past two years and they wound up beating the Kings both times. But a win in Game 4 will go a long way in ensuring that this one doesn’t wind up going longer than it needs to.
2. The Kings would have to beat the Oilers three times in a row and twice in Edmonton, which would be an incredibly tall task. NHL teams that go up 3-1 in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win that series 90.5 percent of the time (305-32). That winning percentage goes up to 92.1 percent (198-17) when looking at teams with home-ice advantage who go up 3-1 in a series.
Only once have the Oilers blown a 3-1 playoff series lead in franchise history. Back in 1989, they took a 3-1 lead in the first round against Wayne Gretzky and the Kings in his first season after being traded to Los Angeles. The Kings won the next three games to take the series, capped off by a 6-3 victory at home in Game 7.
The Kings are also one of just four NHL teams ever to come back and win a playoff series after going down 3-0. They did so in the first round of the 2014 playoffs against the San Jose Sharks en route to their second Stanley Cup. The Kings still have three players from that year’s playoff run: Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Trevor Lewis.
3. A key for the Oilers in Game 4 will be scoring the first goal. “It’s always so much easier to play when you have the lead,” head coach Kris Knoblauch said following the team’s win in Game 3. “They have to open things up, and with the way we play, we love it when another team opens things up and it just gives our guys a little more room.”
Zach Hyman scored seven minutes into Game 1, Adam Henrique put the Oilers up 2-0 a few minutes later, and they cruised to a 7-4 win. In Game 3, Hyman scored seven minutes into the game, and the Oilers piled on two more goals in the first period before ultimately winning 6-1.
Los Angeles’ only win in the series thus far came after they scored first. Adrian Kempe scored two goals in the first period of Game 2 to give the Kings an early lead. The Oilers tied the game in the second, the two teams exchanged goals in the third, and the Kings won in overtime.
“I think the games that we’ve won we’ve had a strong first period, and the game that we lost, I thought we put in a pretty solid 40 minutes, but it was just too big of a hole to overcome,” Knoblauch said. “We need a really strong start, especially playing in their building where they played really well this past second half of the year. We need to make sure that we’re ready from the start.”
4. The Kings haven’t been able to contain Edmonton’s offence through the first three games of this series. During the regular season, the Kings were among the best teams in the league at keeping the puck out of their own net. They allowed the third-fewest goals against (215) and had the second-best penalty-kill percentage (84.6).
Through three games against the Oilers, the Kings have allowed 17 goals and they’ve allowed the Oilers to score on seven of their 17 power play opportunities. Zach Hyman leads all skaters in the playoffs with six goals and Connor McDavid leads the way in points with nine. Hyman and Leon Draisaitl have combined for nine of Edmonton’s 17 goals against L.A., but they’ve also been getting depth scoring, as Dylan Holloway, Adam Henrique, Warren Foegele, Evander Kane, and Brett Kulak have found the back of the net.
Stuart Skinner allowed nine goals on 63 shots (.857 save percentage) over Games 1 and 2 but settled in and was very solid for the Oilers in Game 3 in Los Angeles, as he stopped 27 of 28 shots in the win (.964 save percentage).


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