3 Keys: Kings at Oilers, Game 2 of Western First Round

(3P) Kings at (2P) Oilers

10 p.m. ET; ESPN2, CBC, SN, TVAS, BSSC

Los Angeles leads best-of-7 series 1-0


The Edmonton Oilers will try to avoid going down 2-0 to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Place on Wednesday.

The Kings never trailed and won 4-3 in Game 1 on Monday.

Teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-7 NHL playoff series hold an all-time record of 337-52 (.866), including an 84-20 (.808) mark when starting the series on the road.

“I think there were good signs in the last game at times where we got our game going a little bit but it wasn’t long enough and it wasn’t consistent enough through the 60 minutes,” Oilers center Leon Draisaitl said. “We’re looking to do that.”

Edmonton has lost seven straight postseason games; it lost the final two games to the Chicago Blackhawks in a four-game defeat in the best-of-5 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifiers and was swept by the Winnipeg Jets in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round last season.

Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said none of that matters.

“After Game 1, we talked a lot about just getting better a little bit each day as we move through the series,” Woodcroft said. “We had a good day yesterday. I think the mindset is a good one for our team right now.

“I think we want to start the game better than we did in Game 1. It’s a focal point for us.”

Asked if the Kings are now playing with house money, coach Todd McLellan said their goal is now to sweep the first two games on the road. 

“No one likes to lose their house money either,” McLellan said.

Here are 3 keys for Game 2:

1. Top centers tug-of-war

In Game 1, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid had two points (one goal, one assist) and played 25:33 and Leon Draisaitl scored one goal and played 22:34.

The Kings countered that pair with Anze Kopitar, who played 25:41, and Phillip Danault, who had two points (one goal, one assist) and played 22:45.

That matchup is expected to continue in Game 2.

“[Kopitar] played eight seconds more than his matchup and Danault played 11 seconds more than his matchup,” McLellan said. “We’re going to play the game. We’re going to play our players. There’s no saving anything for us. We’re living day to day. 

“There’s pressure on us internally to perform at a real high level and we’re going to play guys. If [Kopitar] has to play 45 minutes tonight, he’s going to play 45 minutes tonight. … And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Connor and Leon’s minutes go way up as well.”

2. Archibald in, Arvidsson out

McLellan said Wednesday that Viktor Arvidsson will not play in Game 2 after missing Game 1. The forward, who had 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 66 games this season, did not skate Tuesday. No reason has been given for his absence.

The Oilers will put forward Josh Archibald in the lineup for Game 2. He had one assist in eight games this season.

“I see a feisty type of guy, someone who gets in on the forecheck and finishes his check,” Woodcroft said of Archibald. “I think he’ll come into the lineup and give us a burst of energy.”

Archibald will be available to travel to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4, despite not being vaccinated for COVID-19 due to a medical exception after developing myocarditis at the beginning of the season, Woodcroft said.

3. Smith seeks to bounce back

Oilers goalie Mike Smith made an unwise turnover late in Game 1 and it led to Danault’s game-winning goal at 14:46 of the third period.

Smith, who made 31 saves in Game 1, said after the game he shouldn’t have made that attempted pass up the middle and that he’ll learn from the error. His teammates said they believe he’ll be able to rebound and stand tall in Game 2.

“I don’t think you need to worry about ‘Smitty,'” Draisaitl said. “He’s a battler. … He made a mistake but we all did. It’s not on Smitty. I thought he was really, really good and he’ll be good again tonight.”

Kings projected lineup

Andreas Athanasiou — Anze Kopitar — Adrian Kempe

Alex Iafallo — Phillip Danault — Trevor Moore

Carl GrundstromBlake LizotteDustin Brown

Brendan LemieuxQuinton ByfieldArthur Kaliyev

Alexander EdlerMatt Roy

Mikey AndersonSean Durzi

Olli MaattaJordan Spence

Jonathan Quick

Cal Petersen

Scratched: Viktor Arvidsson, Tobias Bjornfot, Gabriel Vilardi, Lias Andersson, Troy Stecher, Jacob Moverare, Austin Strand, Rasmus Kupari

Injured: Drew Doughty (wrist), Sean Walker (knee)

Oilers projected lineup

Evander Kane — Connor McDavid — Jesse Puljujarvi

Zach Hyman — Leon Draisaitl — Kailer Yamamoto

Josh Archibald — Ryan Nugent-HopkinsDerek Ryan

Warren FoegeleRyan McLeodZack Kassian

Darnell NurseCody Ceci

Duncan KeithEvan Bouchard

Brett KulakTyson Barrie

Mike Smith

Mikko Koskinen

Scratched: Philip Broberg, Devin Shore, Derick Brassard, Kris Russell, Olivier Rodrigue

Injured: None

Status report

Edmonton will dress a conventional lineup after playing with 11 forwards and seven defensemen in Game 1 on Monday. 

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