LOS ANGELES — Jay Woodcroft says his Edmonton Oilers simply need to be better.
After posting a pair of lopsided wins and taking a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series against the Kings, the Oilers faltered Sunday, falling 4-0 to L.A. in Game 4.
It’s no surprise that L.A. rebounded with a big push, said Woodcroft, Edmonton’s head coach.
“I think they’re a competitive hockey team any time they play and that’s not unexpected,” he said. “We know the level we have to compete at and we certainly have more to give. To a man we can all be better.”
Edmonton outscored L.A. 16-2 in Games 2 and 3 but couldn’t get a single puck past Jonathan Quick on Sunday.
The 36-year-old goalie made 31 saves and posted the 10th playoff shutout of his career as the Kings evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
“He’s a good goalie. He’s been a good goalie in this league for such a long time,” said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. “He’s not just going to come back and feel bad (about himself). He’s going to play his butt off, and he did tonight.”
Carl Grundstrom scored twice in the third period, and Troy Stecher and Trevor Moore each had a goal and an assist.
Mike Smith made 42 saves for the Oilers, who were outshot 46-31.
“I think everyone in our room was tired of giving up that many goals,” said Kings defenceman Mikey Anderson. “So as a whole, I think we tried to lock it down more to get back to our identity, being harder to play against and trying to give up less than we’ve been giving up the last couple of games.”
The series will return to Edmonton for Game 5 on Tuesday. Game 6 will go Thursday back in L.A.
Whichever team wins two out the next three games will move on to round two.
“We just focus on the next one. That’s a big one,” Nurse said. “We’re not looking too far ahead. We’ve got to make sure that we come out and have the right effort on home ice.”
The Kings dominated from the beginning of the first period on Sunday, outshooting the Oilers 20-10 across the opening frame.
Grundstrom put away his second of the night 18:39 into the third, scoring on the empty net in a power play after the Oilers pulled Smith in favour of the extra attacker.
The Oilers amped up the pressure late in the third, but Grundstrom escaped the zone with the puck and made his way up the ice under pressure from Nurse.
Nurse fell to the ice near the hash marks, dragging Grundstrom down with him, but the Swedish winger managed to send a sliding shot between the post and Smith’s skate.
“He was strong. He made a good play,” Nurse said.
A scrum erupted along the end boards moments after, resulting in game misconducts for Edmonton winger Evander Kane and L.A. defenceman Alex Edler.
Video review determined the goal was good but Woodcroft opted to challenge for goaltender interference. Again, the goal was held up after official review and Edmonton was handed a penalty.
The Kings went 1 for 3 with the man advantage on Saturday and the Oilers were 0 for 3.
Edmonton seemed poised to score late in the second, too, when Kailer Yamamoto fired a shot from the top of the crease, and Quick, playing without his glove, got a piece of the puck and sent it up into the crossbar.
Yamamoto caught the post with his rebound, but Kane cleaned up the loose puck and sent another quick shot on net. Quick, still gloveless, deftly knocked the puck down with his blocker.
“You just see the puck, you’re just trying to get something in front of it,” said the netminder.
Danault nearly put away a short-handed tally early in the second after Sean Durzi was called for holding.
Danault picked off an Edmonton pass and streaked away for a breakaway. Smith came out of his crease and made the stop, with the puck deflecting off his pads and out of harm’s way.
The Kings took advantage of some open ice midway through the second after Edmonton’s Tyson Barrie and L.A.’s Brendan Lemieux were called for roughing.
Stecher launched a blast from the top of the faceoff circle and the puck hit the stick of Oilers defenceman Duncan Keith in front before trickling in through Smith’s legs.
It was his first goal for the Kings. L.A. acquired the 28-year-old defenceman from the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick.
Stecher was playing in his first game of the series, slotting in for Jordan Spence.
Danault set up the first goal of the night, picking up a puck after a battle along the boards and sending a backhanded pass to Moore at the top of the crease. Moore elevated a shot over Smith’s outstretched leg for his second goal of the playoffs 8:03 into the game.
NOTES: Nurse and Moore were sent off for game misconducts with just over three minutes left on the clock … Derick Brassard came into the Edmonton’s lineup for forward Derek Ryan … L.A. winger Andreas Athanasiou didn’t play. He was replaced in the lineup by Grundstrom, who missed Game 3 with an undisclosed injury.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press