The Edmonton Oilers advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after beating the LA Kings 2-0 on Saturday night at Rogers Place. The Oilers won the series 4-3.
“It feels good to win a play-off round. It’s only the second I’ve been a part of,” said Oilers Captain Connor McDavid. “It’s definitely a special feeling.”
“It feels good to do it with this group,” added Draisaitl after the win. “We’ve been through things all season – even a lot of years – a lot of ups and downs and a lot of negative things, so it feels great to have this feeling now.”
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With the crowd in a frenzy, the Oilers had the better of the game early on, as it took the Kings eight minutes to register a shot at goal.
“It’s a dream come true,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said of coaching for the Rogers Place crowd on Saturday. “Obviously, the city of Edmonton is behind us.
“The ice rink was electric today.”
Josh Archibald was bloodied when he took a stick in the face, leading to a video review for a four-minute penalty. The tape showed Archibald being hit by teammate Duncan Keith. The first period was scoreless.
Midway through the second, Zach Hyman threw the puck into the crease. The ball fell behind Jonathan Quick and seemed destined to open the score, but Andreas Athanasiou pulled the ball off the goal line.
The Oilers top line raised the forecheck later in the second. Kailer Yamamoto made a jumping action to keep the puck in at the blue line. Seconds later, Connor McDavid moved behind the net and fed Cody Ceci, who went high to the short side on Quick for his first of the series.
“I notice that I get more opportunities and more opportunities to attack offensively,” said Ceci.
“To make the building go crazy like that is a pretty good adrenaline rush. That’s one I’ll remember for a long time.”
The Oilers defeated the Kings 24-10 in the second period, which included a stretch of 17 straight shots. The 24 shots in a period set a new team playoff record.
“They play a stingy game and manage to get pucks to the net and break you down that way, but we held on,” said McDavid.
“We’ve tried to put emphasis on playing the game tight,” Woodcroft added. “In the last two elimination games we were dealing with, we had habits that held up under pressure, and that’s a good sign for us as we move forward.”
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Josh Archibald had a breakaway one minute into the third, but couldn’t cash in. Not long after, Yamamoto looked great from the slot, but shot it at the post.
It took the Kings over ten minutes to register a shot in the third, but it was dangerous when Trevor Moore fired a one-timer from the right. Mike Smith came across to the rescue.
“When you play our best game of the series in the biggest (game), you can’t help but get confidence out of that,” said Smith.
“Getting through the first lap has been a crux for a while, so I think it’s a big boost for this group.”
With 3:53 to go, McDavid came behind Sean Durzi, who would be given a penalty during the chase. McDavid kept the puck alive and shoved a backhand past Quick for his fourth.
“That series pushed us in a way that made us grow, and we’ve learned a lot over the past two weeks about ourselves and the price to pay to be successful at this time of year,” Woodcroft said.
Smith made 29 saves before his second shutout of the series. Made 39 stops quickly.
The Oilers play in the second round against the Calgary Flames or the Dallas Stars.
† With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED
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