LA Kings vs Edmonton Oilers Game 4 Preview

An overtime victory gave the hometown team the series lead, but will they be able to fend off the surging Oilers or will they succumb to the pressure?

Edmonton Oilers (1-2) @ Los Angeles Kings (2-1)
Sunday, April 23, 2023 — 6:00 p.m. Pacific Arena – Los Angeles, CA

How To Watch
TV: Bally Sports West, TBS
Radio: iHeartRadio / CHED

Team Stats
Los Angeles Kings
Power Play %: 26.7% (T-6th)
Penalty Kill %: 50.0% (16th)
Goals/Game: 3.00 (T-10th)
Goals Against/Game: 3.00 (T-3rd)

Edmonton Oilers
Power Play %: 50.0% (1st)
Penalty Kill %: 73.3% (10th)
Goals/Game: 3.00 (T-10th)
Goals Against/Game: 3.00 (T-3rd)

Team Leaders
Los Angeles Kings
Goals: Adrian Kempe (3)
Assists: Anze Kopitar (4)
Points: Anze Kopitar (5)
PIM: Alex Iafallo, Drew Doughty (4)

Edmonton Oilers
Goals: Leon Draisaitl (3)
Assists: Leon Draisaitl, Evan Bouchard (3)
Points: Leon Draisaitl (6)
PIM: Evander Kane (8)

So far, two of the three games between the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers have been decided by one goal–all three if you don't count the empty net goal from Game 2. Suffice it to say, even for the playoffs, things have been tight.

With injuries to Blake Lizotte and Kevin Fiala, the Kings have managed to find ways to win, largely by leaning on veteran netminder Joonas Korpisalo who continues his excellent work as he has all season long. Finally healthy after an off-season surgery, Korpisalo posted his best regular season save percentage since 2015-16. Now in his second ever foray into the playoffs, the 6'3" Finland native has been exactly what the Kings were hoping for when they traded for him in March. In three games so far, he has posted save percentages of .950, .917,  and .925 while his opponent has save percentages of  .903, .917 and .886. Part of that is due to the fact that LA has had trouble breaking through and getting shots on goal while Edmonton seems to be averaging at least 10 every period. But, no matter what happens in this series, at least the Kings can rest easy knowing that goaltending, for a change this season, is not the problem.

Working from the net out, Korpisalo's teammate in Columbus, Vladislav Gavrikov, has been an incredible force to be reckoned with every night. In shot attempt percentage, he is second on the team behind only Quinton Byfield at 49.2% and leads the team by a wide margin in shot attempts for with 62. While his defense partner Matt Roy is a close second at 61, Byfield and Anze Kopitar are the next closest with 48 and 47 shot attempts for each. Basically, Gavrikov and Roy are doing it all and doing it well.

However, the rest of the team is still struggling to contain the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and their respective linemates. The Kings' third and fourth lines match up well against the Oilers' third and fourth lines, but trying to prevent McDavid or Draisaitl from doing metaphorical (and probably literal) alley-oops on the ice has been a real challenge. With the last change at home, Todd McLellan has done the smart thing and gotten his fourth line away from Draisaitl. While Kopitar, Byfield, and Adrian Kempe didn't necessarily win that matchup in terms of shot attempts, it took two power plays to get McDavid on the board, both of which took very highly skilled shots to go in.

While a goal is a goal, there are some "moral victories" if you will to take away. One of them being that their penalty kill is not helping them. Their 5v5 defense has been good enough that special teams are making the difference and a 50% kill rate is not going to cut it against two of the world's greatest players. The second moral victory is that it takes some extra special talent to make these goals go in. So at the very least, the basic foundations of the penalty kill are decent, but it's just not quite decent enough against the likes of McDavid and Draisaitl. Coaches will preach to their team until they're blue in the face to maintain discipline, but if the Kings want to win the series, they need to either improve their penalty kill or stay out of the box. One is certainly easier than the other.

Postgame on Friday, Draisaitl commented on what he felt was unbalanced officiating. Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said he believed McDavid that the puck hit Gabriel Vilardi's stick and that the officials missed a stoppage, thereby giving Los Angeles an unfair advantage in sudden death overtime.

Expect Edmonton to come out with a big push tonight as a "response game." One thing Kings did well in Game 3 was stick to their 1-3-1 system, which continually frustrated the visitors. If they stick to that system and stay as calm as Korpisalo has been in net, there may be a good chance for Trevor Moore to be the hometown hero again.

Projected Lineup

Los Angeles Kings

Byfield - Kopitar - Kempe
Moore - Danault - Arvidsson
Iafallo - Vilardi - Grundstrom
McEwan - Kupari - Anderson-Dolan

Anderson - Doughty
Roy - Gavrikov
Durzi - Edler


Kevin Fiala is a game-time decision and might throw all of this into chaos. We love chaos!

Edmonton Oilers