Kings blow multi-goal lead, fall in overtime to Oilers

The Sporting Tribune's Derek Lee recaps the Kings' Game 4 overtime loss to the Oilers.

LOS ANGELES – Looking to take a 3-1 series lead over the Edmonton Oilers, the Kings built off their solid start from Game 3 and came out of the gates firing in Game 4. A quick 3-0 lead ended Stuart Skinner’s night for Edmonton, with former King Jack Campbell replacing him in net to begin the second.

“I felt like our team needed a little bit of change in momentum,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft after the game on his decision to pull Skinner after the first period. Woodcroft said the only debate he had about the move was whether to do it at the end of the first or after the Kings had scored their third goal. “We decided to wait until we could get into the (locker) room. Once we did that, (it) kind of took off from there.”

Apr 23, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) defends the goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period in game four of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

While Campbell’s play didn’t look stellar by any means, he made the saves that he needed to in order to keep Edmonton in the game. As it has all series, the Oilers capitalized on their power play opportunities. Evan Bouchard scored his second game of the series, a slap shot from the point that rang off the post and in.

The Kings had a chance to increase their lead off the back of an odd-man rush between Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danault, but Campbell did enough to ensure that neither Arvidsson nor Danault could get the puck past him.

Leon Draisaitl’s fourth goal of the series brought the Oilers back within one, though it didn’t come without controversy. Drew Doughty had an opportunity to get the puck moving out of the Kings’ defensive zone but was tripped up by Connor McDavid. No penalty was called on the play and the puck fell to Draisaitl as a direct result of the trip.

A tripping penalty was called in the final minute of the second, on the Kings’ Kevin Fiala. Fiala––who had been out of the lineup for almost a month with a lower-body injury––directly contributed to two of the Kings’ three goals, collecting a pair of primary assists. It was his first game since April 1 against Seattle. Edmonton didn’t bother waiting until the third to even the score, with Draisaitl getting his second of the night just 40 seconds into the power play.

“We’ve been there before and we had lots of time,” said Draisaitl on erasing the multi-goal deficit from the first. “Obviously you want to put a period like that behind yourself (and) not dwell on that. I think we had a good meeting and obviously came out really strong and gave ourselves a chance.”

The Kings had a lot to think about during the second intermission but looked like they hit the reset button entering the third period. The third line of Fiala, Alex Iafallo and Gabe Vilardi––already responsible for one of LA’s three goals––had looked dangerous all night and continued to put pressure on the Edmonton defense.

It would be the Kings’ second line who helped give LA the lead again, with Danault and Arvidsson combining with Matt Roy to take a 4-3 lead. A nice cross-ice pass from Arvidsson found Roy, who had snuck behind Darnell Nurse as the third man in, and the defenseman beat Campbell backhand through the five hole for his first career playoff goal.

With Hollywood less than 10 miles away from Crypto.com Arena, it would be foolish to expect anything but dramatics. A terrific pad stop by Campbell on Arvidsson––who was in alone on a breakaway––kept the Oilers within one with six minutes to go in the third and just a couple of minutes later, Evander Kane would equalize for Edmonton with a snipe from the left faceoff dot.

A big pad save from Korpisalo kept Kane from getting his second in quick succession and the two teams would head to overtime for the second consecutive game after neither could find another score in the third.

A cross checking penalty from Adrian Kempe six and a half minutes into overtime spelled potential doom for the Kings, who had allowed the Oilers to score on both of their power play opportunities up to this point. It was a big kill for the Kings that could have turned the series directly in their favor if they were able to score again.

But Evan Bouchard caught the Kings on a line change and his stretch pass up to Zach Hyman proved to be the game-winning assist as Hyman’s shot from the left faceoff dot slipped through Korpisalo and sent the series back to Edmonton tied 2-2.

Jay Woodcroft did not show any of his cards when it came to what his plans are for who will be the Game 5 starter. “We’ll sleep on things and see where we’re at after that.” Woodcroft maintained that there is full confidence in both goaltenders, regardless of who gets the start.

The return of Fiala for the Kings was perhaps a surprise, given how just as early as this morning he was skating in a non-contact jersey. His return gives the Kings brings a 20-goal scorer back into their lineup and adds a little bit more scoring depth.

“Thought he made a big difference in the game.” said head coach Todd McClellan. “He gave us an emotional lift, first of all. You could feel it in the locker room, there was some excitement. And then he gave us a third line that was very dangerous offensively. I thought he and (Vilardi) and (Iafallo) did some really good things throughout the game. We’re fortunate to have a player like that who can step in and contribute right away.”