Daily News Alexander: Kings face only a one-game deficit, but it feels larger


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
LOS ANGELES — The Kings said all of the expected things Friday night, after they’d frittered away the home-ice advantage they’d earned two nights before in Edmonton – decisively, in a testy, penalty-filled 6-1 loss to the Oilers.

“I think our team has a lot of character,” defenseman Matt Roy said. “It’s 2-to-1. We’re still in the series. We’re not out of it. Nobody’s going to quit in here.”

“Obviously, learn” from it, Kevin Fiala added. “Forget.

“I mean, this, it’s one game. All of us obviously, we wanted this one, and they wanted it. … You just have to take a look at it as one game, you know? We just have to come back next game and it’s 2-2.”

And this, from the coach, Jim Hiller, when asked what needed to change, and if this were maybe a bigger challenge than the way his team bounced back to win Game 2 in Edmonton after losing Game 1:

“No, it’s the same thing. You know, when people were talking after the last game I said, what I know for sure is it’s one game to one. So no different tonight. What I know for sure is it’s two for them, one for us. And you need to win four in a series. So, we’ll have a similar approach and we’ll get back, and we’ll have to play better than we did tonight. That’s the bottom line. Just like Game 2.”

Maybe clichés, and old adages, and the remnants of old-time hockey are necessary to hold onto under the pressure of a best-of-seven series. They’re comforting, something to fall back on, a way for players and coaches – and fans – to remind themselves that anything is possible.

Times like this, especially against this opponent, there are reminders. After all, earlier this month was the 41st anniversary of current radio analyst Daryl Evans’ overtime goal that completed the Miracle on Manchester, a third-period comeback from a five-goal deficit to tie and then beat Edmonton at the Forum. That memorable moment provided an impetus to win the then best-of-five first round against the soon-to-be dynastic Oilers of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and the rest, one of only two Kings’ playoff series victories in nine previous meetings with Edmonton.

That said, I wouldn't bet the house on a repeat.

— Jim_Alexander (@Jim_Alexander) April 27, 2024

Maybe you get one of those miracles per millenium.

For sure, these Oilers have some future Hall of Famers of their own. Leon Draisaitl scored twice Friday night and Connor McDavid finally scored a goal in these playoffs; for him, three games without a goal would be an eternity. But Zach Hyman, who scored 54 regular-season goals, had his fifth and sixth of the playoffs, while Evander Kane achieved the Gordie Howe Hat Trick: A goal (his first of the playoffs), an assist (also his first of the postseason) and a fight, when he got into it with Andreas Englund after being leveled by a vicious open-ice hit by Englund, which among other things sparked a multi-player fracas.

(Kane, with a straight face, was asked what makes him play his best hockey at this time of year and responded: “Just the drama of it all.” Members of the Edmonton media burst out in laughter, Kane not being particularly known for avoiding drama.)

The reality of it all is that the Kings can wipe out the sour taste of Friday night’s loss with another inspired effort in Sunday’s Game 4, because while the tension and the familiarity and the snarl – and, yes, the drama – increases as a best-of-seven series progresses, each game is still its own entity. Adjustments are made, emotions are stoked, and the embarrassment of one game can create motivation for the next.

But there are the mechanics of the sport to be tended to. The Kings had the NHL’s second-best penalty killing unit during the regular season but they have been shredded by Edmonton in the first three games, seven goals in 14 power plays (including 3 for 7 on Friday night). And the Kings were a respectable 22.6% on the power play in the regular season but are 0 for 10 in this series, including 0 for 5 in Game 3, and came up empty on two first-period power plays that could have blunted Edmonton’s momentum.

Instead, the Oilers scored three in the first period and were off to the races.

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“I thought we were better in the power play,” Hiller said. “We moved it quicker. We didn’t score. We needed to score in that (period) for sure. The power plays at the end (when the game wasn’t in doubt), you can count them as, o-fer, whatever. Those don’t matter much to me. Definitely the first period, though, those those were big opportunities for us to get ourselves back. And we didn’t take advantage.”

The third period turned into a circus after the fracas at the start of the period, with 80 combined penalty minutes including two 10-minute misconducts for each team (Drew Doughty and PL Dubois for the Kings, Kane and Evan Bouchard for Edmonton). Somehow, the Oilers wound up with two 5-on-3 advantages in that period and scored on both, and you can assume there was plenty of grumbling on the Kings bench. Hiller let referees Chris Rooney and Peter MacDougall know his displeasure firsthand.

“Obviously tonight, too many power plays,” Fiala said afterward. “I don’t know how how they had so many power plays, to be honest. The calls were … Obviously, I think they got some calls today that they shouldn’t …”

Just then, a team PR minder interrupted: “Thank you, Kevin.”

Interview over.

As for the drama? It might just be beginning, but it’s up to the Kings to keep it alive Sunday night.


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