Edmonton Oilers @ Los Angeles Kings, Game #53 Recap: Bop It, Twist It, Pull It
The Kings have to scramble after a torrid start, but they end up with their 12th straight home win over the Oilers.
Hardly a routine win for the Los Angeles Kings, but even after the last three games finished 3-0, 5-0, and 6-0, we knew better than to expect the Kings to coast after gaining a 2-0 lead. Even so, the Kings had to weather quite a storm before grabbing a late win. After the second period, Jim Fox made a convoluted reference to A Tale of Two Cities Periods, and as Patrick O’Neal and Sean O’Donnell distracted themselves trying to remember Charles Dickens’ name, we distracted ourselves coming up with a script for the third. Needless to say, it turned out different than the first two.
The start was good! The Kings bopped the Edmonton Oilers over the head with an early goal by Kyle Clifford. It was an innocent play, and it was the kind of goal the Kings had been struggling to score during their extensive losing streak... namely, a goal that wasn’t off an obvious scoring chance. Trevor Lewis (more on him in a bit) took the draw after Torrey Mitchell was kicked out and won it, and Clifford came in and caught Cam Talbot off guard with a quick shot. The placement was nice as well, and the Kings had a goal on their first shot on goal. Good thing, too. Shots on goal were hard to come by.
That tally could not have been more misleading, though, as LA attempted 28 shots in the first frame. That only six of them got to Talbot was a testament to the Oilers’ shot-blocking, which was outstanding. 15 pucks were blocked in the first period alone, and combined with the Kings JUST missing wide on several decent looks, meant that the first period dominance wasn’t as obvious in the box score as it was on the ice. Maybe the Kings were trying to be too accurate with their shots.
Then again, that worked out for Adrian Kempe, who came closer than anyone to scoring a second goal in the first period but got it on the first shot of the second period. Cam Talbot has been poor this season, but no goalie was stopping this:
Oscar Klefbom’s turnover gave Drew Doughty an opportunity to set something up, and Doughty did it to bring his career stat line to a picturesque 100-300-400. (His 301st came later, screwing that up.) After that, though, came the twist: the Oilers woke up. Edmonton outshot LA 15-4 over the rest of the period, and the Kings only managed to attempt two shots in the ten minutes after Kempe’s goal. By that point, it was tied. Leon Draisaitl broke Darcy Kuemper’s 193+ minute shutout streak on the power play, before Connor McDavid recovered after a near-death experience:
That Muzzin shot right before was the second shot attempt since Kempe’s goal, and even after McDavid equalized, the Kings struggled to get back into it. After one more Oilers power play went begging, though, things got better, and it felt like the Kings had a shot going into the third. LA did indeed pull it out in the third, but not until after this terrifying sequence was over:
Spoke too soon. NOW call the cops for larceny by @dkuemps35. With a post and crossbar as accomplices. pic.twitter.com/gw1CyNB3Fd— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 8, 2018
The fact that Mike Cammalleri and Milan Lucic were those denied by Kuemper and the post, respectively, only made this more terrifying at the time. After that, the Oilers must have been wondering what they could possibly do to get a lead, which maybe makes it more understandable that LA was in control from that point on. And after the escaped Kings failed to grab the lead for their team, one of the newer Kings managed to do it instead:
Nice wrister and nice screen! LaDue’s goal was deserved based on the way the rest of that period went, and even if the power play lineup was unorthodox, it worked. After the second point of the night and sixth career (regular season) power play point for Lewis, the Oilers didn’t trouble Darcy Kuemper, and empty net goals for Alex Iafallo and Anze Kopitar sealed the deal.
LaDue ended up grabbing first star honors, and rightfully so. He was on the ice for 11 Kings scoring chances and only one Oilers scoring chance, according to Natural Stat Trick, and was a +17 in shot attempts. Alec Martinez’s return is imminent, but I’m not sure John Stevens will be able to scratch him as he did a week ago.