The Day After +4.0: Edmonton Oilers stars shine as they complete comeback at Crypto.com, beat LA Kings 5-4 in OT
Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing7 months ago
The message heading into Sunday night’s game four for the Edmonton Oilers was simple: be ready.
Well, after 20 minutes, the scoreboard read 3-0 in favour of the LA Kings and it was clear the Oilers weren’t quite ready. And while they may have hit two posts clean and been all alone on the doorstep in that frame, as Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft noted after the game, the Kings converted on their chances and the Oilers didn’t.
Before the clock ticked out in that frame, he already had his plan for period two: take Stuart Skinner out of the crease, and put in Jack Campbell. It was the catalyst for what would become the Comeback at Crypto.com that saw the Oilers secure a 5-4 OT win.
“I felt our team needed a little change in momentum and give us a different kind of look,” Woodcroft said. “Once we did that, we took off from there.”
And boy, did they take off from there. With Gabe Vilardi, Viktor Arvidsson and Anze Kopitar already having found twine, the Oilers responded with their best period of the playoffs. Evan Bouchard unleashed a bomb on the powerplay 4:55 into the frame, and Leon Draisaitl added two tallies — including one with 11 seconds left in the period — to tie things up after two frames.
THE DAY AFTER IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
When Campbell came into the crease, he was ready to go. He had sat for over an hour and a half after warmups, and the Kings tested him with a few great looks, but he shut the door.
“Let’s go. Let’s get ‘er done,” said Campbell when asked for what he was thinking when he got the nod to enter the game. “I felt great right off the hop. The guys did a great job in front of me.”
The only crack in Campbell’s armour came 4:28 into the third period. LA entered the third period clearly frustrated by the fact they allowed Edmonton back into the game and pushed hard. While Matt Roy would manage to break in and split Campbell through the five-hole, the Oilers goalie responded well.
So well, in fact, that one singular save in that third period could’ve saved the entire Oilers season. Viktor Arvidsson, with a shade under six minutes to go, got sprung into the Edmonton zone on a partial breakaway faking like he was going backhand, trying to jam the puck in on the short side. Campbell, however, stood tall stoning the Kings winger.
“He made a good move,” said Campbell. “I thought he was going to take ‘er backhand, but cut back. Just tried to battle and stay with it and fortunately, it stayed out.”
Had that puck gone in, we could be talking about a completely different series. But instead, we’re talking about how Evander Kane and Zach Hyman finally inserted themselves into these playoffs. With 3:02 left on the clock in regulation, the former found a puck in the offensive zone beating Joonas Korpisalo, while the latter did the same taking a huge Evan Bouchard stretch pass and scoring the game-winner.
“It’s not like they weren’t doing lots of good things, they were. It just didn’t go in the net for them,” said Woodcroft. “Kaner ended up finding that goal in the third period off a shot from distance. I see a lot of our players all around it.
“We have a belief that if you do things harder and longer than the opposition, you eventually get rewarded. I said this yesterday: our mindset is to keep pounding on that rock until it splits.”
Kane and Hyman weren’t the only productive players, but they were two of the ones that needed to step up the most. Draisaitl, who had two goals and three points, and McDavid — who had three assists of his own — each found their ways onto the scoresheet.
It’s clear the mindset of pounding the rock has worked for the Oilers thus far because Sunday night’s offensive breakthrough could prove pivotal as the series shifts back to Edmonton for game five Tuesday night. It’s now become a best-of-three.
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 email@example.com.
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