The Kings rolled into Edmonton with the series tied 2-2 instead of a 3-1 lead. 3-1 was the score when the Oilers began their frenzied comeback effort on Sunday night, which ended in overtime thanks to a Zach Hyman goal. The Kings, who were up by as many as three goals in that game, desperately needed a bounceback effort. That wasn’t what they got on Tuesday night.
Two early goals from Evander Kane and Leon Draisaitl put the Kings behind the 8-ball early and after Alex Iafallo pulled one back off a rebound created by Adrian Kempe, the Oilers responded with another goal just a minute later.
Quinton Byfield was caught puck watching and Brett Kulak was able to sneak down from the point to score on a backdoor pass. It was a rough first period for Byfield, who also lost Draisaitl on the second Oilers goal. He was demoted to the third line after Kulak’s goal, with Iafallo taking his spot on the top line.
Kempe continued to show why he was so prolific during the regular season with his fourth goal of the series after a nice pass from Carl Grundstrom. The five goals scored among both teams in the first was the highest amount of goals scored in a period in this year’s playoffs so far.
The second wasn’t as exciting offensively, but it was a period that was still controlled by the Oilers. A deflection goal from a wide-open Nick Bjugstad ended Joonas Korpisalo’s night but for the Oilers, it didn’t matter who was in goal. An Evan Bouchard shot from the point minutes later slapped off Hyman’s face and past new goaltender Pheonix Copley to make it 5-2 Edmonton.
Edmonton would make it a 6-2 game after Copley flubbed a Bjugstad backhand and the puck slid in off the skate of Mikey Anderson.
The Kings found a consolation goal courtesy of Byfield, the first of his playoffs career, but the damage was done. A late cross checking penalty from Sean Durzi did enough to snuff out any momentum that LA had been able to muster.
It’s certainly worrying that the Kings put out such a low-energy performance in a pivotal game. The winner of Game 5 in a best-of-7 with the series tied 2-2 has won the series 79% of the time. It’s not as if the Kings have faced worse odds before. After all, they won the Stanley Cup as the eighth seed in 2012.
They’ll need a lot more from their depth pieces. Matt Roy’s goal in Game 4 was their first goal scored by a Kings defenseman all series. Penalty killing has been an issue all series as well, though it’s difficult to tame literally the best power play in NHL history. With three days until Game 6, the Kings have plenty of time to reflect on what they can and need to do better.
Notes: Sean Walker drew in for Alex Edler and made his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. Walker missed last year’s series due to knee surgery. Pheonix Copley’s relief appearance was his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut as well. He stopped six of eight shots.