R1, G4 FINAL – Kings 4, Oilers 5 (OT) – Kopitar, Fiala, McLellan

The LA Kings saw their best-of-seven series against the Edmonton Oilers evened at two games apiece after a 5-4 overtime defeat in Game 4 on Sunday evening at Crypto.com Arena.

The Kings got a multi-point night from forward Viktor Arvidsson (1-1-2) and multi-assist games from forwards Phillip Danault and Kevin Fiala in defeat. Forwards Gabe Vilardi and Anze Kopitar, along with defenseman Matt Roy, also scored. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 37 saves as he dropped to 2-2 in the series.

In his first period back with the Kings, Fiala made an early impact to open the scoring. After he took a drop pass from forward Alex Iafallo in the neutral zone, Fiala drove into the offensive end down the left wing and though his shot on goal was kicked aside by Oilers netminder Stuart Skinner, Vilardi followed up on the play to bury his second goal of the series.

With just over three minutes remaining in the opening period, Arvidsson doubled his team’s lead. The shifty Swede took a feed in transition and gained the offensive blue line with a spinning zone entry. On a 2-on-1 rush, he kept the puck himself into the left-hand circle and fired past Skinner for his first playoff goal with the Kings.

A power-play goal from Kopitar made it a 3-0 advantage just 83 seconds after Arvidsson’s goal. Fiala picked up his second primary assist of the evening, as he poked the puck free in the slot to Kopitar, who deked to the backhand, around Skinner, for his second goal of the series and a 3-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.

The visitors made a goaltending change to begin the second period, as former King Jack Campbell entered in place of Skinner.

Edmonton scored twice in the first half of the second period to cut the Kings advantage to 3-2. On their first power play of the night, defenseman Evan Bouchard converted on a one-timer from the center point, clean through traffic, for his second goal of the series to get the Oilers on the board. Forward Leon Draisaitl then pulled his side within one as he buried a pass from forward Connor McDavid, from close range, for a 3-2 scoreline.

The Oilers tied the game with their second power-play goal of the evening, with less than a minute to play in the second period. After Fiala was called for tripping, Draisaitl buried his second goal of the evening, finishing from the slot off an assist from forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for his fifth marker of the series.

The Kings responded early in the third period through Roy, who scored his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs to put the hosts back on top. Roy drove the net entering the offensive zone and took a feed off the rush from Arvidsson before he collected, deked to the backhand and slotted past Edmonton netminder Jack Campbell for a 4-3 advantage.

With just over three minutes remaining in regulation, the Oilers found the game-tying goal as forward Evander Kane scored his second goal of the series to knot the score at four apiece. Off the rush, McDavid dished to Kane, who got into the left-hand circle and snapped his shot past Korpisalo for a 4-4 scoreline.

After the Kings killed off an Edmonton power play during overtime, the Oilers took Game 4 a couple of shifts later, through forward Zach Hyman. Hyman took a stretch pass from defenseman Evan Bouchard and worked his way into the offensive zone on a 2-on-2 rush. He shot from the left-hand circle and beat Korpisalo for the game-winner and a tied series.

Hear from forward Fiala, Kopitar and Head Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s game.

Anze Kopitar

Kevin Fiala
On what he felt changed in the game tonight in the second period
Yeah, it was a 3-0 game, I know obviously they have very good offensive players, but you can’t give them any life, which we did today. We’ll just clean it up next game and you have to learn from it and away we go.

On the team’s start to tonight’s game
Yeah, I think we just had it from the start, just going at it, every line, and we got rewarded with the goals. It was just a good first period for us I think.

On his game today
It was awesome to get back out there with the boys. You can always improve. I felt okay, I hadn’t played in three weeks, so it’s not going to be your best, but it was okay.

On having Iafallo and Vilardi as linemates and if that made his return to the lineup easier
They’re good players, they work hard and they’re playoff-type of players, just going to the dirty areas, heavy on sticks and doing all the right things. It was very easy to go in with them.

On the team’s ability to move on from adversity in a game like that
It’s always going to happen like that, it’s playoff hockey. It’s going to move left and right, so I thought we did a good job emotionally. They made it 3-3 and we made it 4-3, so we recovered well from that and they scored again. My thoughts in OT, I didn’t think they were any better than us, it could have gone either way. We just have to recover and go from there.

*In shorter answers, Fiala indicated that he learned he would be able to play earlier today and did not have a comment on his tripping penalty in the second period.

Todd McLellan
On his takeaways from Game 4
I thought the start for us obviously was tremendous, something that we haven’t had in the series. In the second period, it’s been a strange series, it seems like the team that gets the lead takes its foot off the gas a little bit and sits back. I don’t know if we were sitting back, but they took advantage of their power plays and then in the third we came back out and played the way we wanted to. From there, it was fairly even. Hell of a series so far, two really good teams that are playing hard. Good hockey.

On getting Kevin Fiala back in the lineup and his impact on the game tonight
I thought he made a big difference in the game. He gave us an emotional lift, first of all, you could feel it in the locker room, there was some excitement. Then, he gave us a third line that was very dangerous offensively, I thought with him, Gabe and Al they did some really good things throughout the game, not just the first period or third period, but even in the second. We’re fortunate to have a player like that, that can step in and contribute right away.

On what he feels the group could do to avoid that second-period letdown
Yeah, that’s a billion-dollar question. We don’t want that to happen. Sometimes, the other team gets in the way and it has an effect on the outcome of the game, but when you play a little bit on your heels, especially against this group, that’s going to happen. We’ve seen it, as I said, in this series. We saw it in Games 1, 2, 3 almost every game where one team gets the lead and they sit back a little bit and the other team is able to come back. A sign of two pretty good teams when they can do that.

On the chance creation from Danault’s line tonight and narrowly missing down the stretch
They created a number of chances. I think we had two chances in succession in the third period where we probably could have put it away, but Soupy made the saves that he needed to make and we didn’t get that nail in the coffin or whatever term you want to use. The Danault line has been a very good line for us. They’ve played effectively all season and it’s carried over into the playoffs, both offensively and defensively.

On his thoughts about the tripping penalty on Kevin Fiala in the second period
I could get up here and whine about officiating, but in all my years, I’ve learned that calls go your way or they don’t go your way and it’s really a waste of energy. So, if they called a tripping penalty, it’s a tripping penalty. That’s just how it goes.

On balancing the body of work from Games 1-4 against the disappointing in tonight’s defeat
You can learn from a lot of things you did well and we did a lot of good things, but also the mistakes we made. Whether they were mental mistakes or systematic, structure mistakes, we’ll learn from it too. We’re still a team that’s evolving and we’ll be fine……I go back to the “keep your heads up” comment earlier, I’m not worried about that one bit. I know our group pretty well, they’ll have their heads up.

Notes –
– Gabriel Vilardi scored his second goal of the series to extend his playoff point streak to three games (2-1-3) since making his postseason debut in Game 2.
– Viktor Arvidsson (1-1-2) scored his first career playoff goal as a member of the LA Kings, as a part of a multi-point night.
– Anze Kopitar scored his second power-play goal of the series for his team-leading sixth point this playoff season (2-4-6). Kopitar’s goal marked his 10th career playoff point against the Edmonton Oilers (3-7-10), surpassing Colorado’s Cale Makar for second-most playoff points against the Oilers among active players. Only teammate Adrian Kempe (5-6-11) has more.
– Matt Roy registered his first career playoff goal early in the third period.
– Kevin Fiala (0-2-2) recorded two assists for his first playoff points as an LA King in his postseason debut with the team. Fiala has now recorded 17 points (9-8-17) in 36 career playoff games.
– Adrian Kempe extended his postseason-opening point streak to four games, becoming the first Kings skater to do so since 2014 (Anze Kopitar: 10 GP & Jeff Carter: 5 GP).
– Phillip Danault (0-2-2), Alex Iafallo and Trevor Moore all collected assists, with Danault posting his first multi-point game of the playoffs.

The Kings will not hold a team practice tomorrow and will travel to Edmonton tomorrow afternoon. The group will return to the ice for morning skate on Tuesday at 10:30 AM Pacific time at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

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