Kings erase early deficit again, but Oilers hold on to even series

The Sporting Tribune's Derek Lee recaps the Kings' Game 2 loss to the Oilers.

After the first period, it felt like the same old story for the Kings. They went down 2-0 early to the Oilers and had a mountain to climb. Of course, it’s not unfamiliar territory for LA, who had to do the same thing just two days ago in Game 1.

Leon Draisaitl kept cooking, adding three more points to the two he had in Game 1. Connor McDavid, after going scoreless in Game 1, got back on the scoresheet with the primary assist on Draisaitl’s power play goal which gave the Oilers a two-goal lead.

The Kings didn’t back down though, getting a couple of greasy goals from Phillip Danault and Gabe Vilardi, the latter drawing in for his first game in nearly a month after recovering from an undisclosed upper-body injury.

A nice pass from behind the net by Adrian Kempe found Danault in front, who kept whacking away after his first attempt, eventually squeaking the puck past Skinner. A turnover in the neutral zone by Vincent Desharnais allowed Vilardi to come down the ice and squeeze the puck past Skinner from an impossible angle after a series of dekes.

The Oilers, who went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in the absence of the injured Mattias Janmark, just couldn’t stay out of the penalty box, especially in the second period. The Kings didn’t score on those power plays, but they did create enough chances to start building momentum and increase their offensive zone time. LA went 0-for-4 on the power play after converting two of their six man advantages on Monday night.

Joonas Korpisalo was sharp once again, denying McDavid and Evander Kane on a series of odd-man rushes and then displaying an excellent showing of glovework on Nick Bjugstad. After 37 saves in Game 1, he came right back with another 30+ save performance in Game 2, stopping 33 shots.

It was a rough night for the Kings’ fourth line, which was on the ice for the first two Edmonton goals. Draisaitl double-shifted with Klim Kostin and Derek Ryan, allowing him to escape the defensive matchups of Danault and Anze Kopitar and use his skill against the Kings’ bottom-6. Kostin and Ryan also scored the first and third Oilers goals, respectively.

In some ways, the Kings can say that they’re lucky to be heading home with the series tied 1-1 instead of being down 2-0. Credit to their resilience in taking the game back in the series opener, but they haven’t led at any point in the series yet and Game 2 felt like they began threatening too late and ran out of race track.

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