The Edmonton Oilers came into LA Thursday night and they knew what they needed to do. They needed to win.
And by the end of the night, they came out on top with a crucial 4-2 win.
While it was far from the perfect game for the Oilers, it was just enough to get the job done. Loading up the Oilers’ top line with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid turned out to be a difference-maker. By the end of the night, the two finished the night with a combined goal and three assists.
The hot start the Oilers needed paid off dividends down the road. They knew it would be the most important part of their game if they wanted to stay alive in these playoffs.
Jay Woodcroft and co. did a great job keeping the Kings on their toes. Running 11 forwards and seven defencemen, we saw a wide array of lines that made things difficult on the Kings when it came to getting their matchups.
The biggest thing, however, was the Oilers showed up on time. They played their game and for the first time since game three, the Oilers were able to drive play their way and play their game.
Edmonton will get a huge reinforcement in Darnell Nurse back for a pivotal game seven.
And now, for the first time since 1990, the Oilers are playing in a game seven at home.
It took all of 1:40 for that to come true, when none other than Connor McDavid busted open the scoring. He broke down the left-wing opting for a wraparound that was too quick for Jonathan Quick to get across on.
From there, it was all Oilers. They started to run with the game like they not only knew they needed to, but knew they could. No shortage of adversity came their way, however.
With a little over six minutes left in the first frame, McDavid drove hard to the net with a scrum quickly following. It was Kings defenceman Mikey Anderson, however, that hauled down Leon Draisaitl as the big German got his right leg twisted up. Down the tunnel he went, but came back out and gutted the rest of the night out.
With the Oilers running 11 forwards and seven defencemen, we got a wide array of lines to look at.
Come the second, the Oilers got out to a quick start again. This time it was Evander Kane tipping home a Brett Kulak bomb from the point giving the Oilers a two-goal lead.
LA got their first goal of the game when Sean Durzi’s point shot found its way home. The Kings, however, never really should’ve had the man advantage. You see, it was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who took a, well, weak cross-checking call against Carl Grundstrom. While the Oilers forward did give him a good push from behind, Grundstrom did more than his fair share of diving to draw it.
LA got some life off the second goal and took that right into the third, where a defensive zone breakout allowed Carl Grundstrom to get a clean look at the net finding the top corner just 29 seconds in.
From there, it was all nerves. The Oilers had some pushes in the third period, but they kept their composure. Ultimately, with a little over five minutes to go in the game, it was Tyson Barrie unloading a point shot that was enough to send the Oilers to victory, while Kane added an empty netter for good measures.
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 protected]