Kings squander lead, lose game 4 in OT
The Los Angeles Kings had a 3-0 lead until the Oilers special teams took over.
Let's start with the good:
Kevin Fiala's back, and he hardly seems to have missed a step.
In his first game action since April 1, without the benefit of a full contact practice, Fiala played 21:33, including 2:20 on the power play. He recorded two assists – one on Gabe Vilardi's game-opening goal, and one on Anze Kopitar's power play goal, both in the first period. While Fiala and his linemates didn't come out that great in terms of fancystats – the Kings were outshot 15-9 while Fiala was on the ice – it was good to see him playing without limitations after suffering a knee injury at the end of the season.
The second line continues to impress.
The trio of Trevor Moore, Viktor Arvidsson, and Phil Danault were the only forward line to outshoot the Oilers at even strength. They also combined for the Kings' second goal, featuring a highlight reel move from Aridsson to evade Vincent Desharnais. They were also on the ice for what was, at the time, the go-ahead goal from Matt Roy.
The Kings got off to a quick start.
They've fallen behind early frequently in this series: 2-0 in the first period of games one and two, and then squandered a 1-0 lead in game three to allow the Oilers to come back. Joonas Korpisalo has been largely up to the task to at least keep the Kings competitive while they find their footing, but it's been hard to watch the Kings seemingly sleepwalk through the opening 20-30 minutes or so.
Last night, the Kings flipped the script and had a dominant first period, putting three shots past Stuart Skinner on 11 shots, while Korpisalo stopped all nine shots he faced. Being ready from puck drop was a welcome change of pace for this series.
But, of course, the Kings lost, so there's also some bad for us to talk about.
The Kings delayed that slow start until the second period.
Maybe the Oilers had a real Come to McJesus moment in the first intermission. Maybe the Kings took their foot off the gas a little, thinking that a three goal lead (against the Oilers?!) would be enough. Whatever the reason, the Kings were wildly outplayed in the second period, getting outshot 20-8 and outscored 3-0. The Kings took two penalties in the second period and the Oilers scored on both advantages. The Kings didn't get a shot recorded until nearly eight minutes had passed and the Oilers had already scored a goal. Just a bad response to a good period.
The penalty kill is miserable right now.
Look – both sides can argue all day right now about officiating. Missed calls, soft calls, wild inconsistancies in what is and is not a penalty. I get it. It's true. But I'd say the same thing to Kings fans as I did about Oilers fans who were mad about how calls impacted the outcome of games – the best way to get revenge is on the score sheet. You can't change the call after the fact, and the league clearly has shown no inclination to actually change the status quo. Mad about the call, or the non-call, or whatever? Great! Understandable! You're not wrong! But it doesn't matter! Sure, there's a larger conversation to be had about how to improve officiating in this sport. But for the context of this game, this specific moment in time: like, tough! Don't want to give up goals on the penalty kill? Then your penalty kill needs to be better. Simple.
The fourth line is also miserable right now.
Carl Grundstrom, Rasmus Kupari, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, and Arthur Kaliyev all had decent regular seasons. Not as much development/improvement as you'd like to see from them, but still, they were largely fine as a fourth line. They're getting eaten alive by the Oilers, however. None of them registered any shots on goal and they're getting absolutely eaten alive against whatever opposing line they see time against. Shortening the bench and limiting their ice time seems to be the only solution Todd McLellan has had for dealing with them, but this feels unsustainable.
The series returns to Edmonton where game five awaits on Tuesday, April 25 at 6:30 pm Pacific.