Not So Fast
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
For everything the Edmonton Oilers did well in building a 2-0 lead and dominating the first period of a must-win game against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Place Wednesday, it was like their playoff lives flashed before my eyes when the teams headed to the second intermission tied 2-2. How about you?
While being down 1-0 in the series after a 4-3 OT loss Monday in which they coughed up leads of 2-0 and 3-1 wasn’t ideal, the Oilers have been down that road — they lost their series opener to Los Angeles last spring and came back to win in seven games. The Oilers, the record shows, have made a habit of coming back to win a series after spotting opponents a game.
That said, history tells us teams falling behind 2-0 in a series and coming back to win are a longshot. So, when Philip Danault and Gabriel Vilardi pulled LA even with second-period goals 48 hours after Monday’s comeback, I sensed the pucker-level in the fanbase rising heading into the third period. The Oilers, after all, have been tagged as favorites to win this series handily as legit Stanley Cup contenders. So, to blow another lead and go down 2-0? Yeesh.
Not to worry. Klim Kostin eased the angst by sifting a shot past Joonas Korpisalo to make it 3-2 just 2:20 into the third period with his first career playoff goal and Evander Kane closed the deal with an empty-netter in the final minute to make it 4-2. The Oilers and Kings head back to Tinseltown even up 1-1 in the series. Let the good times roll. Consternation will have to wait.
WHAT THEY SAY
Apr 19, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN;The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Leon Draisaitl (29) during the first period against the Los Angeles Kings in game two of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Leon Draisaitl was an absolute force again, scoring the 2-0 goal and adding two assists, but the Oilers still needed what was a bit of a soft goal by Korpisalo on Kostin’s winner to avoid losing the first two games because of blown leads. As was the case Monday, the Oilers were the better team most of the game, but the Kings hung around through 40 minutes.
“Yeah, not to us,” coach Jay Woodcroft said when asked about closing things out when it looked like the game might slip away. “It didn’t look like that. Actually, you know what, for us, we have a team that I thought played a really good hockey game again today save for maybe a few minutes there in the second period we would’ve liked to have back.
“In between periods, we talked about how that’s a growth opportunity for our team and as we move forward here in both games. I thought we controlled the bulk of the play in both games. We had a couple of minutes we’d like to have back in both games, but in the end, we found a way to win the game tonight.”
The Oilers played shorthanded six times Monday and it cost them on Anze Kopitar’s tying goal late in regulation time and on the OT winner by Alex Iafallo. They played shorthanded four more times last night, but didn’t give up a goal.
The Kings, meanwhile, have been shorthanded just four times through the first two games. In the end, the supporting cast up front – Derek Ryan with the 1-0 goal and the big winger fans are calling Klim Shady – made the difference.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I think the playoffs, this is the ultimate team game, right? This is the ultimate team time of year, right? Everybody puts the ‘me’ stuff aside,” said Zach Hyman.
“We don’t really care who scores and it’s huge that (Ryan) and Klim stepped up. If you’re going to go on a long run, everybody’s going to have their moment. Everybody’s going to be the hero of the game or whatnot. So huge game from them, huge goal from Klim at the end to give us the win.”
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