The Edmonton Oilers advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after a 2-0 victory over the LA Kings on Saturday night at Rogers Place. The Oilers won the series 4-3.
“It feels good to win a playoff round. It’s only the second I’ve been in,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “It’s definitely a special feeling.”
“It feels good to do it with this group,” added Draisaitl after the win. “We’ve been through stuff all season long, even for many years, a lot of ups and downs and a lot of negatives, so it feels great to have this feeling right now.”
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With the crowd going wild, the Oilers got the better of the play early on, as it took the Kings eight minutes to register a shot on goal.
“It’s a dream come true,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said of working out in front of the Rogers Place crowd on Saturday. “Obviously the city of Edmonton is behind us.
“The track was electric today.”
Josh Archibald was bloodied when he took a stick to the face, prompting a video review for a four-minute penalty. The tape showed Archibald being hit by his teammate Duncan Keith. The first half was goalless.
Midway through the second, Zach Hyman tossed the puck into the crease. He snuck in behind Jonathan Quick and seemed destined to open the scoring, but Andreas Athanasiou took him off the goal line.
The Oilers’ top line tore up the front later in the second. Kailer Yamamoto made a jump play to catch the puck at the blue line. A few seconds later, Connor McDavid set up behind the net and fed Cody Ceci, who rose to the short side of Quick for his first of the series.
“I find myself having more opportunities and more opportunities to contribute offensively,” Ceci said.
“Having the building go crazy like that is a good adrenaline rush. That’s one I’ll remember for a while.”
The Oilers outscored the Kings 24-10 in the second period, including a streak of 17 straight shots. The 24 shots in one period set a new team playoff record.
“They play a stingy game and they do a good job of getting the pucks to the net and knocking you down that way, but we’re holding our own,” McDavid said.
“We try to put an emphasis on playing the game strictly,” Woodcroft added. “In the last two elimination games we faced, we had habits that held up under pressure, and that’s a good sign for us going forward.”
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Josh Archibald broke away in the minute of the third but couldn’t cash. Not long after, Yamamoto had a great look from the slot but shot into the post.
It took the Kings over ten minutes to register a shot in the third, but it was dangerous as Trevor Moore shot from the right side. Mike Smith crossed to save.
“By playing our best game of the series in the biggest (game), you can’t help but gain confidence from that,” Smith said.
“Getting out of the first round has been kind of a crux for a while, so I think that’s a big boost for this group.”
With 3:53 remaining, McDavid dropped in behind Sean Durzi, who was going to take a penalty as he chased after him. McDavid kept the puck alive and hit a backhand to Quick for his fourth.
“That series pushed us in a certain way that made us grow, and we’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the last two weeks and the price you have to pay to be successful this time of year,” Woodcroft said.
Smith made 29 saves for his second shutout of the series. Rapid made 39 stops.
The Oilers will play either the Calgary Flames or the Dallas Stars in the second round.
— With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED
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