Whether their Game 2 loss came via overtime or in a whitewash — which Wednesday’s 6-0 affair unquestionably was — the Los Angeles Kings head into Friday’s home clash with the Edmonton Oilers holding home-ice advantage.
It’s an enviable position in their best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series, and the Kings will be reminded of that. After all, they won the opener 4-3.
“We’re in the playoffs, we feel damn good,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We’re going to try to go and fix things, but we’re getting the chance. There’s a lot of teams right now that wish they had this opportunity to recover from a 6-0 loss and we have it. … We’re not just here to gain experience, we’re here to try and win this thing. We have to fix some things and give them a game in Game 3.”
Though the series is now evened up, the Kings were manhandled from start to finish in Wednesday’s loss. The biggest difference so far through two games has been the special-teams battle. Edmonton has scored multiple special-teams goals in both games, with a power play that’s clicked at 50 percent (4-for-8) and a penalty kill that’s snuffed all eight Los Angeles man-advantage opportunities, and even scored one short-handed goal.
That said, the Kings believe they can regain control the next time they hit the ice.
“We know that we can play, we know that we can win,” defenseman Matt Roy said. “We’re a confident group and we’re excited to head back home. We obviously wanted (Game 2), but getting one (game) is huge and we’re excited to get back to our fans and play in front of them.”
The Oilers may have the momentum after such a dominating win, but they are well aware that can be fleeting in a playoff series, especially against a Kings team that has reached this point by playing a very structured game.
“In the end, it’s one game and there is a lot of hockey left to be played in the series,” said defenseman Darnell Nurse, who has been a key to Edmonton’s perfect penalty kill and scored the short-handed goal. “It’s a game that we can build off of and look back at some of the positives within our structure and how we played. Now we get to L.A. and reset and get ready for the next one.”
One element the Oilers have surprised with is their physical play. Certainly it’s not unusual for the likes of Nurse, Josh Archibald and Zack Kassian to be throwing their weight around, but captain Connor McDavid — who claimed his fourth career scoring title this season — made a statement by dishing out a handful of checks.
“When your leader goes out and he’s banging bodies, it’s easy for everyone else to do it too,” goaltender Mike Smith said of McDavid. “It’s playoff hockey. You want to get touches on guys as much as you can when they’re going back for pucks and it pays dividends in a long series, so I think we did a good job with the physicality.
“It started in the first period and carried throughout the game and we got a big win.”
As of Thursday, there was no word whether the Kings would have 20-goal scorer Viktor Arvidsson in the lineup for Friday’s game. Arvidsson has missed both games of the series due to an undisclosed injury.
–Field Level Media