The Day After +1.0: Edmonton Oilers can’t close out game one against LA Kings

Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
Death, taxes, and the Edmonton Oilers losing round one of the series, apparently.
These pesky game ones have become a nemesis of sorts for the Oilers. In every one of their previous seven playoff series since 2017, the Oilers have only won a game one once: the second round in 2017 against Anaheim.
Well, the trend continued last night as the Oilers coughed up a 2-0 and 3-1 lead ultimately falling 4-3 in overtime to the LA Kings. Not the way the Oilers were hoping to kick off the 2023 playoffs.
What might be the toughest part to stomach of the defeat was the fact that the Oilers came out early and set the tempo in a tremendous way. They were shot out of a cannon playing their game in the first period laying hits, blocking shots and leading 2-0 in thanks to goals from Leon Draisaitl and Evan Bouchard. They had three powerplays to the Kings’ two, and made the most of it with Bouchard’s goal coming on the man advantage.
But come the second, the script flipped and the LA Kings got a parade to the powerplay. In fact, between the start of the second and the end of the game, LA had five powerplays to the Oilers’ one. While they were self-inflicted and, for the most part, surefire calls, the truth of the matter is the Kings had been getting away with similar infractions.
It’s surely no excuse for the Oilers and they didn’t use it as one, but nonetheless, it was an element of the game that had zapped life from the Oilers. Even still, head coach Jay Woodcroft liked the game the Oilers were playing through the first 40 minutes.
“We did a lot of good things. I loved our first period. I thought we came out skating at the level we wanted to skate at,” Woodcroft said. “I thought we did things to earn powerplays and in the end, we built a 2-0 lead, so through the first 40 minutes, I liked our game.”
That third period, however, was a different animal. Adrian Kempe scored just 52 seconds into the frame and while the Oilers would get one back in thanks to Draisaitl’s second of the game, LA kept pushing. They made it 3-2 at the 11:23 mark, then with 1:50 left in the third period, Bouchard took a high sticking penalty after effectively cross-checking Trevor Moore in the face.


LA pulled their goalie, and with 16.7 seconds left on the clock, Anze Kopitar sent the game to overtime where at the 9:19 mark, the Kings would complete their comeback in thanks to Alex Iafallo.
As a whole, it was the type of game we haven’t seen from the Oilers in a while. They built the lead early, much like they had late in the season, but they let this one slip away.
“We’ll have to make sure it’s a one-off,” said Mattias Ekholm. “It would’ve been one thing standing here if it was a complete crapshoot in the third. I thought we managed the puck. They scored with 15 seconds 6-on-4. It’s tough to defend those.
“Again, you got to learn, you got to move on, but again, it’s one out of seven [games].”
There’s more than enough for the Oilers to build on, that’s for sure. The aforementioned first was solid from the Oilers, and in 54:16 of 5×5 time, they controlled 62.96 percent of the shot attempt share, 62.07 percent of the scoring chances, and 66.6 percent of the expected goal share. Icing on the cake? Outscoring LA 2-1 there.
“I think we have a mature group, we’ve been thought some battles here,” said Woodcroft. “We understand there’s some things we did well. In order to find a way to win, it’s got to be for the full 60 minutes and we’ll show some [of the game on film tomorrow] of the good, and some of the stuff we have to learn and get better from.”
Game two of the series goes Wednesday night in Edmonton.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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