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The Los Angeles Kings fell short against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 2 last night, leaving the series tied heading back home.
Gabriel Vilardi returned for the Kings, with Arthur Kaliyev sliding down to the fourth line and Jaret Anderson-Dolan coming out of the lineup.
The game started with a pretty rough opening frame for Los Angeles. The Kings found themselves down early, with Derek Ryan getting to a bounce off the boards to beat Joonas Korpisalo. Los Angeles really wasn’t getting anything going and even on a power play later, they gave up a great chance on an odd-man rush to Evander Kane. Then a little over midway through the frame, the Kings took a penalty and Connor McDavid found Leon Draisaitl with a great pass on the ensuing power play for a goal, making it 2-0. These two goals came before the Kings had even registered a shot on goal and after being outshot 11-3 overall in the frame, Los Angeles went to intermission down a pair of goals (and probably lucky to not be down by more).
The Oilers kept pressing through a lot of the second period, and Los Angeles was really just hanging on, trying not to fall into a deeper hole. However, the Kings did get on the board with about five minutes left in the frame, with Phillip Danault getting a couple whacks at a puck in front and squeaking it past Skinner. It seemed to spark the Kings, with the team building a bit of momentum on a power play afterwards. Then with under a minute to go in the second period, Gabriel Vilardi took the puck to the net by himself and jammed the it past Stuart Skinner, tying the game through 40 minutes.
The Kings ended up back down early in the third though, with Klim Kostin just entering the zone and ripping a shot past Korpisalo. Edmonton ended up controlling the bulk of the frame from there and while the Kings did press late with the goalie pulled, Edmonton hung on and added an empty netter for the 4-2 win.
While the Kings had a rough first 40 minutes in Game 1 but rebounded for the third period, last night had fewer positives, despite the comeback. Obviously, it was great to see the Kings battle back, but they were outplayed through a lot of the game, especially early.
Getting Vilardi back was huge though, with the winger picking up a goal in his first game back. Vilardi gives the team another quality option in the top-nine – now it’s just a matter of getting Kevin Fiala back, which could be a gamechanger.
Special teams were also a story in Game 2 and the Kings actually did a great job staying out of the box, taking a single penalty. Of course, that one penalty did result in a goal against, just further reinforcing how deadly the Oilers’ power play will be. But the Kings also had four of their own power plays and got very little going on any of them. Los Angeles is going to need to be able to keep up in terms of the special teams battle and after the late-season success of the power play, it was a disappointing result in Game 2.
So we’ll see how the Kings respond at home. They haven’t been the better team through the first two games overall but it’s now down to a Best-of-5, with the Kings stealing home ice advantage.
Plus, Joonas Korpisalo has given the Kings a chance to win. Watching the goaltending battle play out so far, Korpisalo has been the better netminder.
Game 3 is set for tomorrow.
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Kings battle back from two-goal deficit in Game 1, defeat Oilers in OT