Recap: Kings Gain Playoff Spot (For Now) With 8-2 Shaming of Oilers
Despite playing without Andrej Sekera, the Kings won with ease and, for the time being, grabbed the second wild-card playoff spot.
The Los Angeles Kings have once again procrastinated making the playoffs until the end of the season, but they did not procrastinate tonight in their 8-2 demolition of the Edmonton Oilers. The Kings, who needed wins after consecutive losses in Chicago and Minnesota and were without standout defenseman Andrej Sekera, jumped on the board early and kept scoring. Except for a short stretch in the second period, this one was never in doubt. Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, and Jordan Nolan all scored for the first time since—I dunno, the Nixon Presidency?—and Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter added two goals apiece. Lineup changes saw Mike Richards scratched to make room for a now-healthy Jaret Stoll, and Brayden McNabb inserted into Sekera's spot. McNabb played pretty well. Stoll was...there, I guess. (Ed. note: apparently just being there earned you an assist tonight.)
The Kings scored two and a half minutes into the game when Dustin Brown sneaked one past old friend Ben Scrivens, who started in the goal for the Oilers but didn't do much in the way of tending it. Although the Kings never opened a huge shots-on-goal lead over the Oilers, they easily won the possession battle in the first period, and often seemed to have more space and more time to work with in their offensive zone than usual. That's what happens when you play the Oilers, I suppose. Goals by Gaborik and Doughty closed the first period at 3-0 and the Kings looked to be on cruise control.
With Scrivens struggling and recent callup Tyler Bunz on the Oilers bench as his backup, the Internet erupted with Bunz puns in anticipation of a switch.
We are officially on Tyler Bunz Watch.— Eric (@EricJFTC) April 3, 2015
Although Scrivens was still in goal, the second period was a little more serious for Kings fans than the first, so Trevor Lewis provided some levity.
Trevor Lewis Trevor Lewising pic.twitter.com/m1Ff5CcL5r— Jewels frm the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) April 3, 2015
Edmonton began to generate some chances in the second and made it 3-1 on the power play (goalie interference, Kyle Clifford) when Teddy Purcell took a long rebound and found the smallest of margins between Quick's pads. The Kings snuffed out the nascent threat, however, as Nolan made a power move to the net and jammed it by Scrivens for the Kings' fourth goal; Quick made a careening save on a Nail Yakupov power-play attempt; and Carter skillfully scooped a Marian Gaborik pass into the top corner for a power-play goal to end the period's scoring at 5-1.
Here's that Quick save. A better shot would have beat him, but it was superb nonetheless.
After the dismantling of Scrivens, Bunz Watchers the world over were rewarded when their man began the third period in the Oilers' goal. Bunz's first NHL save was on a shot by Robyn Regehr early in the third. I originally was going to write something like, "Is it really a save if Robyn Regehr shoots it?" But Regehr's knuckler a few minutes later beat Bunz for his first NHL goal allowed. So, yeah...about that.
By that point, the Kings had kind of become stuck in that in-between place where they didn't know whether to keep trying or to ease off, but regardless, Bunz looked frazzled and let in two more. A hopeful Gaborik shot would have missed, but Bunz tried to glove it and fumbled it into the net, 7-1. Carter's goal, on a breakaway in which he showed blazing closing speed, was originally blocked by Bunz, but Carter persevered and batted the rebound out of the air to beat Bunz for the Kings' 8th goal of the night. In garbage time, Jordan Eberle split the Kings defense and beat Quick with a wrister to cement the score at 8-2.
These Edmonton games sure are enjoyable.
Next up: Another important one against Colorado in Los Angeles on Saturday.