As a team with a long record of winning playoffs and is associated with some of the most famous names in hockey’s history, the spring season has always brought a smile to Edmonton Oilers fans.
They were eager to see the team return to the offensive powerhouse that had destroyed their opponent, who is Los Angeles Kings, with 14 goals in games 2, 3 and 4 of their first-round series. They then hoped Tuesday’s Game 5 would be another memorable postseason game forever etched in the history books.
It was a great game, even though these are Kings Fans who cherished this game throughout the years and months to be.
Even though he was able to fight back with two goals scored by Leon Draisaitl in a span of 2:35, the Kings were forced into overtime. Adrian Kempe scored the first two goals of his playoff career – the first crucially occurring just at 1:12 in overtime as the Kings won 5-4 for a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series that will now head towards Los Angeles for Game 6.
In the colours of blue, orange, and white, many Oiler fans wore the ubiquitous Northern Alberta variation of the Miami Hurricanes’ infamous turnover chain from the 2017 NCAA football season. While wearing this, they made their way to the official party of the team during the days before the puck drop. They were hoping naturally for the possibility of an Oilers win, while others decided to take an image of former Oiler Ladislav Smid.
A team with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, and Glenn Anderson is among the top four point producers in the playoffs in NHL time. Perhaps the guest appearance might be reserved for someone other than a defenseman who appeared in just one playoff game during seven full seasons in Edmonton.
The majority of the spectators would wish for any of the mentioned quartets throughout Tuesday’s game, especially with the Oilers losing most of the regulation.
After his first loss in a shutout of his three-month stint as the Oilers Head Coach – the Sunday’s loss of 4-0 at Los Angeles was just the third time Edmonton was shut out throughout the season Jay Woodcroft decided to make some adjustments to the lines that worked so well in games 2 and 3. He scored 14 goals in those six minutes.
“Sometimes, when you weren’t playing in the way you want to, you have to shuffle the chairs on the deck, and this is what we did today,” he said Tuesday morning before the game. Kailer Yamamoto took over Jesse Puljujarvi on Connor McDavid’s wing, and the Finnish forward moved onto the third line along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The versatile and bold Derek Ryan also drew back to the squad to replace Derick Brassard, who missed the fourth game due to injury, as Ryan McLeod moved up to the second line.
Jonathan Quick seemed to rediscover some of his Conn Smythe Trophy glory in recording his first shutout of playoffs in the four years after winning the Stanley Cup final.
Despite this dreadful Game 4 loss, many Oilers were optimistic when they started the game, smiling and laughing throughout the exercises.
McDavid declared that the Kings were at a higher competitive level in Game 4 and that the Oilers required “desperate” hockey to secure a victory at the end of Game 5.
History supports the Oilers captain’s request for support. For only the second time there were four Stanley Cup playoffs, Game 5s were played out on the same day with teams trying to break a tie of 2-2; the contrast between winning and losing in this phase of a best-of-seven series can be evident.
When a series is at a level in the series, the team that wins Game 5 is the advantage of a .791 series record of winning and teams that took Game 5 in these situations went 6-1 in winning series during the playoffs last year.
Additionally, there is the fact that the Oilers have a track record of breaking the tie in a home game that has been very successful, with Edmonton fans witnessing three victories in Game 5 against only one loss.
Blueliner of the past Duncan Keith, a leader on the three Chicago Blackhawks championship teams in the decade, had called for a more positive beginning to Game 5 following an unsatisfactory start to the game during Sunday’s defeat. His words, however, were not heard, and the Kings outshot the visitors 16-5.
The worst part is that the Oilers lost the game after Troy Stecher was given acres of space inside the Oilers defensive zone to take an assist from Alex Edler and one-time the puck over Mike Smith in the Edmonton goal.
Based on the game sequence that saw the team score the first goal and win the first four games, losing that goal early was not just putting the Oilers behind but also putting the previously loud crowd at Rogers Place on edge.
While there was not much to celebrate during the first half, the crowd was back to action during the 2nd. It was just 2:32 at hand when McDavid scored Quick from his net. Quick swung around the back and fed Zack Kassian, with the forward scoring his first goal of the playoffs to tie the scores at 1-1.
However, the game shifted to LA’s favour at the midway point the halfway point, with Kempe getting an Anze Kopitar before launching an effort over Smith. Then fate put some salve into the wound four minutes after.
Dustin Brown intercepted Brett Kulak’s attempt to clear his defensive zone and quickly delivered it to ex-Oiler Andreas Athanasiou at the end of Smith’s net, who put the puck in the net’s back.
However, 2:50 into the 3rd period and having Blake Lizotte in the box for high-sticking the team, McDavid got the Oilers and fans back in the game by getting Zach Hyman’s assistance and deking Quick to his knees before taking his shot over the top of the net.
Philip Danault restored the Kings with a two-goal lead at 11:06. However, the Kings took advantage of the double-minor of Ryan McLeod, with assists from Kempe and Sean Durzi.
While McLeod remained in his box, Leon Draisaitl restored some optimism with a goal that was shorthanded with 7:27 to go. The hope grew even more after, when Danault, who at one time appeared like he had scored the goal that won them the match, was penalized for interference.
With the Kings’ centre inside their box, it took only 31 seconds for Nugent Hopkins and McDavid to pass the puck towards Draisaitl, who then slammed it into the goal to score his 5th goal, tying the score at 4-4.
Smith was able to save 39 of 43 bullets he fired at him, and Quick saved 24 of 28 shots.
The Kings now have the chance to beat the Oilers in their home game for the game six on Thursday night in Los Angeles.