LOS ANGELES – It was so close to being the right script at the right time for the Kings: a show of resilience, rallying from a two-goal deficit, and better performances from the power play and the penalty kill.
But in the end, their first shot at eliminating the Edmonton Oilers from the opening round of the playoffs just missed. The Oilers survived with defenseman Tyson Barrie’s late third-period goal and then added an empty-netter to defeat the Kings, 4-2, in Game 6 on Thursday night at the arena formerly known as the Staples Center.
1. In case anyone wasn’t quite sure about the state of the series, Oilers forward Evander Kane informed the crowd after his empty-netter.
Evander Kane scores on the empty net and lets the LA fans know the series is going seven pic.twitter.com/BCHw2nH8Kp
– Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 13, 2022
Indeed, the best-of-seven series is tied at three games each. Game 7 is in Edmonton on Saturday night.
Kane, in fact, did clarify that he wasn’t referring to the seven goals he has scored in the series.
2. You’ll see a plenty of statistics associated with Game 7 in the next 48 hours. But here are a few openers from NHL Stats. The Kings have an all-time record of 7-4 in Game 7s and have won their last four.
Where have you gone Mr. Game 7 aka Justin Williams? Kings Nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
3. Once upon a time, the Kings were playing in Game 7s with regularity. They were forced to go to Game 7 in the first three rounds – against San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago – on their way to the Stanley Cup championship in 2014. They only needed five games against the New York Rangers in the final.
Eight years, however, is a long time ago.
“The older guys haven’t been there in a few years, and we have a few guys that haven’t experienced this at all,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “It’s natural. But if you told us that we’ve got to win one game to advance, we’d certainly take the opportunity.
“It’s not all that bad. We’re going to fly up there and get ready for Game 7. ”
He also addressed the slow start, saying, “Maybe the thought of ending the series kind of crept into our mind, and we started off a little tentative and credit to them. They obviously had a good start. ”
4. Kings coach Todd McLellan was on message, too.
In evaluating Game 6, he said it was ultimately a “dress rehearsal.”
McLellan added: “We’ll be that again two days from now. We have enough experience. Guys that have been through this before, and I talked about pressure this morning.
“We liked this situation. If somebody said, ‘Hey, the LA Kings against the Edmonton Oilers, go play for one game.’
“We’re not particularly happy how we got to it tonight. But we can’t do anything about that now. So, let’s look ahead. We’ve won there before. We can win there again. ”
5. For Barrie, it was his first playoff goal since April of 2019, going back to when he was with the Colorado Avalanche, breaking a 19-game postseason drought. What led up to the goal was not a good look for Kings forward Andreas Athanasiou. He can produce in an electrifying fashion and then have moments like this:
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 13, 2022
6. Connor McDavid played big minutes, a game-high 24:02, and had a three-point night, scoring once and adding two assists, including secondary assist on the game-winner. His wraparound goal, a mere 1:40 into the game, set the tone for the Oilers.
“Psychologically, they got what they wanted,” McLellan said. “Then a huge error on our behalf on the winning goal. It’s preventable. It’s avoidable and we made it. But that’s why we play the game. Somebody’s going to make mistakes and the other team’s going to capitalize.
“When you’ve got those offensive weapons that they have, you’ve got to minimize them.”
7. Game 6 reminded McLellan of Game 1 which the Kings won 4-3 in Edmonton.
“There was nothing lopsided about the game,” he said. “Our quarterback / receiver connection wasn’t where it needed to be. It was erratic. Obviously, when we went to pass, the passer was not real clean and the receiver sometimes wasn’t handling the puck well.
“When we do that, we go back to Games 2 and 3 when we didn’t pass the puck well. We’re not a real good offensive juggernaut when that happens. That was a big part of the game tonight. ”
– HockeyStatCards (@hockeystatcards) May 13, 2022
8. Kings defenseman Matt Roy spoke about the frustration in coming close but having to immediately move on.
“It’s the only thing you can do,” he said. “If you sit and dwell on it, it’s just going to bring negative energy. So, you can feel it right now but everyone’s got to move past it fast and be ready to go. ”
9. The Kings’ goals came from defenseman Sean Durzi, who scored his first playoff goal – on the power play – and forward Carl Grundstrom. It was Grundstrom’s third goal of the playoffs and he also provided his usual physical component, leading the Kings with five hits.
– NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) May 13, 2022
10. Kopitar said the playoffs have been a continuation of how the younger players have stepped up during the season.
“They know what it takes,” he said. “So I’m not worried about that at all… I think everybody is a very important part of the big picture. We all need to play at our very best if we want to win hockey games.
“That showed throughout six games and I’m sure it’s going to be no different on Saturday. Again, I have the confidence we’ll get ready, get up there and throw everything we have. ”
11. One more highlight. Here’s the nightly appreciation of a generational player in McDavid.
– Hockey Daily 365 (@ HockeyDaily365) May 13, 2022
12. And for something completely different… the vocal cords of one Adrian Kempe.
– Eric (@ kingsgifs2) May 13, 2022
I have no doubt at least one Kings fan out there will be using this as a new ringtone.
04.30 Top photo: Harry How / Getty Images