This was the kingsseason in a game: exhilarating, exasperating and exhausting all in a matter of minutes.
They came up with a timely score that empowered and frustrated them Edmonton Oilers, followed by special team games that deflated them, including allowing the Oilers a second short hand goal in five games. Kings were often physical and looked more like the hard-nosed identity they had established during the season, but would sometimes fall into confusion in their defensive zone, until a calm head amidst chaos took the biggest win of their own. new era.
Wing Adrian Kempenoting that the Oilers defense had been trapped in their zone for a while, he went to the net and went from backhand to forehand and pushed the puck past goalkeeper Mike Smith for 1 minute 12 seconds in a deadly game to give to the Kings to the improbable 5-4 wins Tuesday night and enable them to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a Thursday night win at Cryptom.com Arena. A seventh game, if necessary, will be played on Saturday in Edmonton.
“I caught them hot on my heels, a little tired,” Kempe said of his goal, which shocked the crowd at Rogers Place on the Kings’ second overtime shot. “Going back to the third period, we were up 4-2 and they had some momentum going into the locker room. I think we’ve shown all year that we have a great identity as a team. “
Scoring a short-handed goal and a power-play goal in the closing minutes of the third period when the Kings gave up Leon Draisaitl, he could have easily deflated the Kings. Somehow, it didn’t.
“We have shown character throughout the year and have learned a lot”, center Phillip Danault She said. “Silent learning”.
Before extra time, he said the Kings calmed down imagining that if before the series started they were told they would also be in the 2-2 series and about to play into extra time, they would certainly be happy to be in that situation. “We just have a great mindset,” he said.
The Kings had set the goal of making the playoffs this season as a means of showing fans – and themselves – that the organization has made progress in rebuilding after too many dead years. By that definition, the Kings have already had a successful season. As a bonus, their young players are receiving a playoff experience for future reference and invaluable guidance from two-time cup winners. Dusty brownwho will retire at the end of the season.
But just reaching the playoffs didn’t satisfy their appetites. “Never enough,” Danault said. “We want to get some things, some good things. We believe we can do it. We believe we can be even better next game. “
The Oilers have come under immense pressure to make a playoff run in the meantime Connor Mc David and Draisaitl are in their prime, but the team have not made it through the second round since defeat in the 2006 Stanley Cup final. They are facing a moment of truth as they learn to manage adversity and prosperity and adapt to the frequent ups and downs of a trip to the playoffs.
The Kings, meanwhile, benefited from even sharper decisions from pressing the buttons coach Todd McLellanwhich led Andreas Athanasiou returned to formation and was rewarded when the fleet winger scored the goal that put the Kings 3-1 ahead.
The Kings silenced the crowd with a goal early in the first period defender Troy Stecher, his second goal in two games since joining the squad. Stecher, acquired by Detroit for depth purposes at the bargain price of a seventh-round draft pick, scored over Smith from the right circle at 3:53.
The Oilers finally broke through in the second period, on their sixth shot of the match, and it took a spectacular move from McDavid around the net to make the goal possible. Zack Kassian scored, standing near the left post.This triggered a strong stretch for the Oilers, but Kempe concluded that by scoring at 9:29, pulling back the puck and throwing a shot that went under the pads of the legs of Smith.
Athanasiou, brought back to the Kings lineup after being scratched for a match, extended the lead to 3-1 at 13:34 in the second period. Brown intercepted a clearing pass and showed great patience in finding Athanasiou near the left post. Athanasiou held the puck, Smith ducked and lifted it over the fallen goalkeeper.
McDavid reduced the Kings lead to 3-2 three seconds in a power play early in the third period, cutting a backhand over the fallen Jonathan Fast. Danault rebuilt a two-goal lead on the power play, but the Oilers responded with a Draisaitl short-handed goal on a deflected pass to reduce it to 4-3. Draisaitl drove the crowd crazy by equalizing at 15:08, finishing a great McDavid pass with a quick shot from the right circle during a power play.
But then came Kempe’s final answer to close on a ticket for the second round of the playoffs.
Playing more like the Kings had played throughout the season and in Game 4, solid in the defensive zone and physically punishing, he said, would be the keys to what comes next. He tried not to think about the tantalizing possibilities that were so close.
“There is still a lot to play for. Obviously, we are very excited, “he said.” Our confidence is good right now, but we have to reset [Wednesday]. “
More importantly, they mentally reset themselves into a new era, and Tuesday looked pretty good.