the king They were expected to return to Edmonton on Monday afternoon in the same location they were in when they left town last week – also dead in their NHL best-of-seven playoffs with the Oilers.
But almost everything else in the first round series has changed. With Sunday’s exuberant 4-0 win in Race 4 at Crypto.com Arena, the Kings not only matched the Oilers with two winsthey also regained control in a series they were about to be wiped out from.
What they didn’t do coach Todd McLellan said, what changes the momentum. At this time of year, he said, that can change with every shot, every check and every save, leaving the teams to start from scratch in Game 5 on Tuesday.
“No momentum,” McLellan said. “It starts again every night. If the momentum had moved, we would have been drilled [Sunday]. “
Indeed. The Oilers have scored 14 goals and won by six in both the second and third games of the series, handing the Kings the most lopsided defeats in the playoffs in 32 years. Defenders Mikey Anderson said the players took it personally.
“Watch the series now, it’s back in place,” he said. “So let’s try to forget the two games we lost and turn our attention to the next one.”
But the series can’t end with the next one; Sunday’s win secured the Kings at least one more home game on Thursday. The significance of that match, McLellan said, will be determined by what his young team has learned so far in the series.
“Did we learn anything during the series? We will find out “.
One thing that was reiterated on Sunday is the fact that Jonathan Quick is a pretty good goalkeeper. Quick was stopped midway through Game 3 after giving up 10 goals in less than five bouts, but rebounded in Game 4, stopping 31 shots to launch his tenth playoff stop, the most by an American, and his first since 2014, when he helped the The Kings win their second Stanley Cup in three years.
Sunday’s victory was the team’s first in a home playoff game since the Stanley Cup final, which was also the Kings’ last post-season streak. Quick is one of four survivors on that team and McLellan said the tone those veterans have will matter if the Kings hope to win this series.
“[They] should absorb every single minute of the ups and downs of this series and watch how some people handle it, “he said of the other players watching veterans.” They all behave a certain way. There is a relaxation factor that goes into I play when we need it. There is an intensity factor that increases when we need it. And it is not produced by the coaching staff.
“The last time I saw it I was in Detroit as an assistant coach.”
That team also won the Stanley Cup.
Whether the Kings are at that level is to be determined, but they certainly did a lot of things well in Game 4, with Trevor Moore and Troy Stecher leading the team 2-0 with first-quarter goals. Carl Grundstrom got the last two at the end of the third period, the last one with an empty net.
Special teams, who fought in the series, also contributed, killing all three of Edmonton’s power plays, marking the first time the Kings have been perfect on the penalty spot since the penultimate game of the regular season.
“We played the game that brought us to the playoffs,” said Quick. “Let’s play like this, we will be successful. We played many good games “.
Did it give them momentum? No, just reassurance – and maybe some confidence in getting back on the road, where they have the second best road record in the Western Conference. Of all the NHL teams, only the Washington Capitals have lost fewer away games than the Kings this season.
McLellan, however, is looking no further than Tuesday. This time of year, he said, it’s one game at a time.
“We just have to win one. That’s all we have to do, “she said.” Our math doesn’t go beyond one.