LOS ANGELES — The Kings have spent an entire season defying the odds and on Sunday extended a resilient campaign that has undermined the experts from start to finish.
They planned a 4–0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at the Crypto.com Arena, even their best-of-seven series in two games.
Entering the year, the Kings were widely projected to have a fourth straight miserable march to nowhere. Moving into Sunday’s match, they remained in the heavy shadow of two consecutive six-goal losses that appeared to dramatically swing the series in Edmonton’s favour.
But Game 4 saw a pivot back toward the puck-hunting, predictable Kings, who made an unexpected return to the playoffs amid adversity.
“As bad as those games felt, the series wasn’t out of hand at all and now we’re all back to square one, and we’ll try and worry about the next one,” said defenseman Mickey Anderson. Kicked out game-high six hits.
Winger Karl Grundström, who missed Game 3 due to injury, took the lead with two goals and an assist. Forward Trevor Moore and defenseman Troy Stitcher, who made his first postseason appearance as a King, each contributed a goal and an assist.
Jonathan Quick dazzled in goal after being drawn in Game 3. He made 31 saves in a brilliant shutout that went back to his dominant playoff performance of 2010. In fact, his last postseason shutout came in Game 3 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals. He now holds the record for most playoff shutouts by an American netminder, surpassing his idol Mike Richter.
Edmonton’s Mike Smith intercepted 42 of 45 shots in the loss. They have won just two of their last 13 decisions post-season.
The Kings took a 34-18 advantage in shot on goal in the second half. They had to absorb more play in the third period as Edmonton’s strategy became more risky and its game more frenetic.
But in the middle of the stanza, Edmonton’s continued offensive-zone timing resulted not in a King’s penalty, but rather an offensive-zone interference minor on Edmonton star Conor McDavid. This relieved the mounting pressure and although the Kings did not score on the power play, they sealed Edmonton’s fate with a marker by Grundstrom with 4:54 remaining. He also added a blank-net goal with 91 seconds to play.
As Grundstrom ran the net, he was pushed down by defenseman Darnell Nurse and taken down from behind. While Grundstrom continued to slide toward Smith, he slid the puck behind him as the three men manned a pile of humanity into the crease, where the two teams immediately gathered for a push, a push, and two separate video reviews, which scored the goal. retained.
“Very good night for (Grundstrom). He’s been a really good player for us, a dependable player, dependable,” McClellan said.
The first period of free play helped the Kings take a 2-0 lead, but in the second they had to hit a pair of penalties and they did. Edmonton could take just two shots with Man Advantage in four minutes and Kings PK won for change on Sunday.
In the final two minutes of the period, Edmonton’s attack was quick to replay. Losing his glove, he made a bare-handed save on winger Kailar Yamamoto, whose shot was quick and then to the crossbar. He would be fine, yet without a miss, to elicit a roar from the crowd, saving a blocker on a subsequent bid from winger Evander Kane.
“You just look at the puck and try to get something in front of it,” said the always underrated Quick, while McClellan lobbied softly for a rule change that stops play immediately in that position. Because the NHL currently dictates when a goalkeeper loses his helmet, but not his glove or skate blade.
Less than three minutes into the second period, the Kings nearly scored during a goal-mouth scuffle, but winger Brendan Lemieux was pulled from behind and away from a loose puck in front of goal. Center Philippe Danault later converted a takeaway into a breakaway, only to be foiled by Smith.
Before the game, the Kings spoke of capturing the height of the moment and playing opportunistically. Despite energy and readiness, they could not convert their first two major opportunities.
Just outside the hop, defenseman Alex Adler’s shot produced a sterling followup opportunity for Moore which went for naught. Center Blake Lizzote slams the puck against the post with a huge opening to shoot from the latter.
That all changed eight minutes earlier, when Moore scored a close-quarters goal that was certainly a welcome sight on the bench and in the stands alike. A dump-in allowed the Kings’ forecheck to set up and Grundstrom allowed the puck to recover. It headed towards goal, where Danault darted his backhand to pull Smith to the right post. Instead of shooting, he dropped a pass straight to the left for Moore for a tap-in tally.
After a successful penalty kill, it was Lizzotte’s turn to atone. He began a scoring sequence and provided a screen in front as Stitcher took off with a shot from the top of the right faceoff circle. It took off the stick of the defending team’s Duncan Keith and left Smith behind with 5:57 in the first match.
Quickly ended the frame with a stellar save on defenseman Brett Kulak to maintain the Kings’ hard-earned lead and close the period. He and the Kings displayed a door slamming mindset for 60 minutes on Sunday.
McClellan said of his “not difficult” decision to start Quicken, “If ever there was a night we would need someone who has been there and done it, it was tonight.”
Yet the Kings cautioned that each game had its own unit and a new effort.
“It starts all over again every night. We’re getting on the plane, it’s over now,” McClellan said. “Because if the momentum had continued, we would have drilled tonight. He had it all. So, no speed. ,