For the first time in franchise history, the Edmonton Oilers have gone perfect on the road in California.
Their final of five games was capped off last night, when the Oilers beat the LA Kings 3-2. As a whole, it was the first time ever that the Oilers went 5-0 through Cali’.
To do it, Edmonton beat Anaheim 6-1, San Jose 3-0 as well as 2-1 in OT on the road. Lastly, Edmonton took down the Kings 5-1 and now 3-2, respectively.
Last night’s W was largely in thanks to Evan Bouchard, who might’ve had his best game as a pro. He scored one goal and added two assists, and at 5×5 with him on the ice, the Oilers controlled 57.69 percent of the shot attempts, 71.43 percent of the shots on goal and an astounding 80.81 percent of the expected goal share.
Those three points? A new single-game record for himself.
“Obviously it’s a great feeling getting that, but more importantly we got the win,” said Bouchard after the game. “That’s all that really matters right now.
“Coming into it we knew we’d had to play a solid game against LA. We know the way they want to play and they’ve been really strong recently. Like I said, it’s just good to come out with a win here.”
The Oilers have been on an absolute roll here as of late. After getting demolished by the Flames 9-5, the Oilers are on a six-game winning streak.
In those games, they’ve given up a total of 13 goals against.
“I think we had a tough game there a few weeks ago in Calgary. We gave up way more goals than we wanted to give up,” said Woodcroft. “We have players that are passionate about playing the game the right way. They put in the necessary work in to execute, and they have a lot of pride.
“You got back to six games, but I look at this road trip, we gave up four goals in three games…. and two of them were even-strength. That’s a good sign for us as we kind of navigate our way down the stretch here in the month of April. We’re going to need that commitment and that mindset because we’re playing some really tough teams here.”
In those last six games, the Oilers have gotten a .937 team save percentage in all situations, while at 5×5, they’ve posted a 50.42 percent shot share percentage while controlling 66.67 percent of the goals scored and 52.89 percent of the expected goal share.
On top of it all, they’ve had the best goaltending in the league with a .937 team save percentage.
“It’s funny because I don’t think confidence is anything tangible. I think you earn the right to feel confident and for mike, he’s earned that feeling because he’s put the work in. He’s put the work in in practice. Certainly put the work in games. His puck-moving ability is elite, but he’s made some big saves for us at the right time. It’s a credit to all that work he’s put in, because he’s earned the right to feel confident.”
The slugfest isn’t about to get easier for Edmonton. Each of their next six games are against teams in the playoff picture, or are fighting for their lives on the bubble: Colorado (2x), Minnesota, Nashville, Vegas and Dallas.
While the math is in the Oilers’ favourite to make the playoffs, they have to keep doing what they’ve been doing and take care of their own business.
Let’s see what they can do.
What they’re saying…
Kings drop key showdown with Oilers
LOS ANGELES –– In a battle for playoff seeding, the Kings looked less like ready-for-prime time players than the Edmonton Oilers.
Connor McDavid set a career high with his 42nd goal and added an assist as the Oilers defeated the Kings, 3-2, on Thursday night at Crypto.com Arena. Evan Bouchard also had a goal and two assists for the Oilers, who have won six straight and 12 of their past 15 to take a three-point lead over the Kings for second place in the Pacific Division.
The Kings, who have lost two straight and four of their last six, have nine games remaining and Edmonton has 10. The Kings are still four points ahead of the fourth-place Vegas Golden Knights, keeping the Kings out of the wild-card discussion for now.
If the season were to end today, the Kings and Oilers would meet in a first-round playoff series, with Edmonton holding home ice for a potential Game 7. That might not be the worst news for the Kings, who own a modest .541 points percentage at home but have posted a robust .657 mark on the road.
The Kings played with some gusto in the middle stages of Thursday’s game, but they bookended it with a sluggish start and a fizzling finish.
“There are some preventable moments in tonight’s game. First of all, an awful line change on our behalf; we skated right by arguably the best player in the world when he was going 100 miles an hour,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We had very poor execution after a faceoff win on the third [goal] … so those are fixable, repairable things, and that’s what’s encouraging about a potential matchup.”
Read more from the Los Angeles Daily News’ Andrew Knoll here
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]