The Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers are tied at 2-2 in a best-of-seven first-round clash that can best be described as the Jekyll and Hyde series.
When both teams have won, they’ve played well. When they’ve lost, not so much.
The Kings were outscored by an eye-popping 14-2 margin in dropping Games 2 (6-0) and 3 (8-2), but bounced back to blank the Oilers, 4-0, in Game 4 on Sunday night in Los Angeles. They have outscored Edmonton 8-3 in their two victories.
Which teams show up for Game 5 in Edmonton on Tuesday night is anybody’s guess.
“No momentum,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said when asked if his team had the edge now after tying the series. “It starts again every night. If momentum carried over, we’d have been drilled tonight.”
Instead, Los Angeles got an impressive 31-save shutout from Jonathan Quick. Forward Carl Grundstrom had two goals and an assist, and defenseman Troy Stecher and forward Trevor Moore also scored as the Kings jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead.
Quick, making his 89th consecutive postseason start to tie Pekka Rinne for the fourth-longest streak in NHL history, picked up his 10th career playoff shutout, surpassing Mike Richter for the most by an American-born goaltender. It came after he was pulled early in the second period after allowing four goals on 17 shots in the 8-2 loss on Friday.
“We played the game that got us to the playoffs,” Quick said. “We got pucks deep, we forechecked, blocked shots, pucks to the net and rebounds. We play that way, we can be successful.”
McLellan said he didn’t think of making a goaltending switch despite back-to-back poor starts by Quick, who was the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner after leading the Kings to the first of two Stanley Cups over a three-year span.
“There were some questions that I answered about the goaltender decision and it wasn’t a hard one for us,” McLellan said. “That’s not a comment to demean Cal Petersen because he’s a hell of a goaltender. But if there was ever a night we needed somebody that’s been there and done it, it was tonight.”
Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said there was no need for his team to push the panic button after Sunday’s loss, especially heading home for Game 5 in what has become a best-of-three series.
“It’s one game at a time for us,” Woodcroft said. “(Sunday) we dropped a game. It’s a missed opportunity and that’s what it is. … We’ll do our work, digest the game and give our players something that will be a focal point heading into Game 5.”
The Oilers were outshot 46-31 in Game 4.
“It shouldn’t change anything for us,” forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “We know we’re in a battle here. We know that’s a good team over there and there’s no team that’s just going to roll over in this league. Everybody is here for a reason and it’s just going to come down to who wants it more.”
“The next one’s the big one,” added defenseman Darnell Nurse. “We’re not looking too far ahead. We have to come out and make sure we have the right effort on home ice here.”
–Field Level Media