Kane scores two, Oilers force Game 7 with 4-2 win over Kings

LOS ANGELES — Evander Kane held up seven fingers to a disappointed crowd of L.A. Kings fans on Thursday night.

The Oilers winger had just scored into the Kings’ empty net — his second goal of the game — sealing Edmonton’s clutch 4-2 victory.

“It means Game 7, baby,” Kane said of the celebration.

With the Kings up 3-2 in the first-round series, the Oilers faced elimination on Thursday. The win prolongs their season, with a decisive Game 7 set to go Saturday in Edmonton.

The Oilers took a 2-0 lead early in the second but the Kings clawed their way back to start the third.

“We got off to a good start, finally, in this series,” said Kane, who also contributed an assist. “We didn’t start the third period the way we wanted to, but this group has been showing it all year, sticking with it, and not getting discouraged. We knew we could get one — we just had to make sure it was the next one.

“We did a great job to bring it back home for Game 7.”

Connor McDavid had a three-point night for the Oilers with a goal and two assists, while Tyson Barrie scored the game-winner with just over five minutes left in the game.

Sean Durzi and Carl Grundstrom replied for the Kings.

“I think maybe the thought of ending the series maybe creeped into our mind and we started off a little tentative,” said L.A.’s Anze Kopitar.

Mike Smith stopped 30 of 32 shots for Edmonton and L.A.’s Jonathan Quick made 33 saves.

Kane put away the final strike with 59.9 seconds left in the game, picking off Matt Roy along the boards, streaking into the Kings’ zone alone and popping a shot into the empty net.

A seemingly injured Leon Draisaitl set up the game-winning goal, dishing a pass back to Barrie as he skated into the Kings’ zone. The Oilers defenceman fired a shot through traffic to make it 3-2 at the 14:50 mark of the third.

The goal was his first of the playoffs.

“We knew we had to have a game tonight and we did a lot of good things. And you know, it’s hockey,” Barrie said. “We gave it back to them a little bit, but we didn’t break and we found a way to get one and I think it shows a lot of character in that group. And now we’ve got home ice and we’re headed back for Game 7. I think the boys are pretty pumped.”

Draisaitl appeared to suffer an ankle injury midway through the first when a scrum erupted in front of the L.A. net and the star sniper was pulled to the ice backward by Kings defenceman Mikey Anderson.

Draisaitl headed to the dressing room, limping, but returned to the Oilers’ bench minutes later. He finished the game with 18:25 in ice time and an assist on Barrie’s goal.

L.A. equalized 29 seconds into the third with Grundstrom whipping a snapshot past Smith from the hash marks for his third goal of the playoffs to make it 2-2.

The Oilers’ bench remained calm and composed after the tying goal, said head coach Jay Woodcroft.

“We knew that we had the horses on the bench to get the job done,” he said. “We felt we did a lot of really good stuff and we just stuck with it. We were persistent, kept hammering away at the rock and eventually it split.”

The Kings cut into the Oilers’ lead with a power-play goal 13:59 into the second after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was called for cross-checking.

Durzi launched a rocket through the point with the puck sailing through traffic and under Smith’s glove.

The goal marked just the third time L.A. has scored on the man advantage in the series. The Kings were 1 for 4 on the power play Thursday and the Oilers went 0 for 1.

Edmonton briefly appeared to take a 3-0 lead early in the second period when Kane sent a rebound into the net over Quick, sprawled on his back in the crease.

Officials on the ice quickly waived the goal off due to goaltender interference because Zach Hyman made contact with the Kings netminder moments before he fell and the Oilers opted not to challenge the ruling.

Woodcroft said the decision was based on what video coach Jeremy Coupal saw.

“He’s been unbelievable throughout his tenure in the NHL and I trust it,” he said. “We knew we were going to find a way to win without that call going our way.”

There was no doubt when Kane scored less than two minutes earlier, though.

Edmonton’s Brett Kulak wound up and fired a blast from inside the blue line and Kane tipped in a rebound to make it 2-0 with his sixth goal of the playoffs.

After a series of slow starts, the Oilers were quick to get on the scoreboard Thursday.

McDavid powered around the net and slipped a wraparound shot between Quick’s pads at the 1:40 mark for his third goal of the playoffs.

Earlier Thursday, it was announced that McDavid is one of three finalists for this year’s Hart Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s most valuable player. The Oilers’ captain has won the award twice before, including last season.

“I can’t say enough about Connor McDavid. His play speaks for itself. It’s otherworldly,” Woodcroft said. “He was a leader in us doing what we needed to do in that first bit of the first period.”

NOTES: Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse was out serving a one-game suspension for head-butting Phillip Danault in Game 5 … Edmonton’s rookie blueliner Philip Broberg made his NHL playoff debut. … The team that scores first has won each of the first six games of the series. The winner has also scored at least four goals.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2022.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press