R1, G5 FINAL – Kings 3, Oilers 6 – Kopitar, Kempe, Walker, McLellan

The LA Kings dropped Game 5 on Tuesday evening in Edmonton by a 6-3 scoreline, as Edmonton took its first lead of the series, 3-2, heading back to Los Angeles.

Forward Adrian Kempe led the way tonight with a multi-point effort (1-1-2), while forwards Alex Iafallo and Quinton Byfield also scored in the Game 5 defeat.

For the third straight game in Edmonton, the Oilers scored the game’s first two goals, opening up a 2-0 advantage in the opening period.

First, with just four seconds remaining on the game’s first power play, forward Evander Kane got the hosts on the board with his third goal of the series. Stationed in the left-hand circle, Kane let go a wrist shot, off the far post and in, for a 1-0 advantage. Less than three minutes later, the Oilers made it 2-0 as forward Connor McDavid fed linemate Leon Draisaitl in front, with the German scoring as he fell to the ice to extend his team’s lead to a pair.

The Kings responded, however, as a newly assembled line got the visitors on the board. Forward Anze Kopitar fed Kempe, who spun and saw his shot on goal saved by Edmonton netminder Stuart Skinner, but Iafallo crashed the net and buried the rebound for his third goal of the series, cutting the Oilers advantage to 2-1.

Just 60 seconds later, Edmonton regained its two-goal lead through defenseman Brett Kulak. Off a cycle below the goal line, Kulak activated from the left point, got past his man in the slot and buried a centering feed from forward Ryan McLeod for his first goal and point of the series.

Late in the opening period, Kempe made it a multi-point night with his fourth goal of the series, as he brought the Kings to within 3-2 after 20 minutes. Forward Carl Grundstrom spun off the wall and feathered a perfectly weighted pass to a charging Kempe, who deked onto his forehand and scored high glove side on Skinner, pulling the visitors back within a goal at the first intermission.

Edmonton added two goals in the second period to open up its largest lead of the evening, with a scoreline of 5-2.

First, just past the midway point of the middle stanza, forward Nick Bjugstad redirected a Cody Ceci point shot narrowly through the legs of netminder Joonas Korpisalo and in for his first goal of the series. After the goal, the Kings made a goaltending change, as Pheonix Copley made his postseason debut. The Oilers added a power-play goal from forward Zach Hyman on a wicked deflection, as Evan Bouchard’s point shot hit Hyman on the head and bounced in for Hyman’s second goal of the series.

Early in the third period, Edmonton extended their advantage to four goals as Hyman collected his second goal of the evening. Bjugstad threw a puck towards a mess of bodies charging the net, with Hyman getting the final touch on it to deflect it past Copley, before the net came off its moorings.

Just over two minutes later, the Kings answered back through Byfield, who scored his first career playoff goal to pull his team back within three goals. Forward Gabe Vilardi made a pair of strong plays in the offensive zone, with the second a spinning, backhanded pass towards the front of the net, where Byfield finished at the back post to cut the deficit to 6-3.

Hear from Kopitar, Kempe, defenseman Sean Walker and Head Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s game.

Anze Kopitar
On the message coming out of tonight, heading into Game 6
Certainly not the game we wanted to play tonight. You know the result, it is what it is now, but we’re still going home, obviously down 3-2, but we are going to play a lot better than that.

On getting to the first intermission 3-2 and the feeling in the game at that point
Yeah, a couple of errant plays and a penalty that we certainly didn’t need and they were able to score a couple goals. Coming in at 3-2, we felt like it was anybody’s game.

On what the Kings can do better to halt Edmonton’s momentum when they start to roll
I just think we’ve got to play more assertive, right from the start of the game. It’s the start that we didn’t want tonight and didn’t need tonight. More desperate and a lot more assertive.

Adrian Kempe
On his assessment of what went wrong tonight
We’ve got to clean up some stuff from tonight. I think our play in our own zone wasn’t good from the start. [We have to] try to stay out of the box as much as we can, it’s a big factor, they got two tonight on the power play, so that was a big factor as well. Other than that, I think we’ve got to keep playing aggressive. I haven’t really thought about the game too much right now, but we’ll go back and look at it tomorrow and then see what we can do better.

On how the group tried to make in-game adjustments to change the game’s momentum
It’s been going back and forth all series. I think the energy was still there, I think we responded pretty well after the first couple of goals in the first period and obviously then when they got another one on the power play, the momentum changes and goes back to their side. It’s tough to go back and forth that way, but I think overall we’re not happy with the game tonight.

On showing more aggression when Edmonton turns over shifts in the offensive zone
Yeah, I think so. I mean, they’re a good team, they have some really skilled players, so it’s hard when they have it, but I think we showed last game when we played our best, that we can be aggressive and we can turn pucks over and go the other way. That’s something that we have to continue to do, but it wasn’t there enough tonight.

Sean Walker
On making his postseason debut tonight
Yeah, it’s great [personally], obviously it would have been nice to be with the guys last year, with the injury and all I couldn’t, but I was happy to get in there. Hopefully, next game I can contribute a little more to helping the team get a win.

On the jump in intensity from his last game in the regular season to tonight’s Game 5
Yeah, it was obviously pretty intense, pretty big game. Coming into a building like this, the intensity is pretty high playing against a team like that, pretty tight-checking, pretty physical. I felt like I handled it well, me and Durz played pretty well I thought, we read well off each other, but, obviously we’ve got to be better.

On how he can rely on his skating ability to match the high pace of the game
Yeah, for sure. I think there were some times tonight when I was trying to keep it a little too simple. I haven’t played for four games, so just trying to be a little bit simple. Going into next game, make some more plays and hopefully have a better outcome.

Todd McLellan

Notes –
– Alex Iafallo scored his third goal of the series with the first Kings goal of the evening.
– Adrian Kempe (1-1-2) extended his postseason-opening point streak to five games (4-3-7), the longest by a Kings skater since 2014 (Anze Kopitar: 10GP and Jeff Carter: 5GP). Other than Kopitar, only two other Kings have had a streak longer than five contests to start the postseason: Daryl Evans (6 GP in 1982) and Marcel Dionne (9 GP in 1977).
– Quinton Byfield notched his first career playoff goal. At 20 years and 249 days old, Byfield is the tenth-youngest skater in Kings history to score a playoff goal and the fourth different skater from the 2020 NHL Draft to accomplish the feat.
– Anze Kopitar recorded his team-leading fifth assist this series for his seventh point this postseason (2-5-7). Kopitar’s assist marked his 42nd career road playoff point (12-30-42), surpassing Luc Robitaille (19-22-41) for sole possession of the most road playoff points in Kings history.
– Drew Doughty (0-1-1) registered his 53rd career playoff point (16-37-53), tying Jeff Carter (26-27-53) for the sixth-most playoff points in franchise history.
– Kevin Fiala and Gabriel Vilardi each tallied assists. Fiala tied Todd Elik (1-3-4) for the most assists through a player’s first two playoff games as a member of the Kings. Vilardi has points in each of the four games he’s played in the series to date (2-2-4)
– Carl Grundstrom collected his first point of the postseason with the primary assist on Kempe’s goal.
– Phillip Danault skated in his 50th career playoff game, becoming the 18th different player from the 2011 NHL Draft to do so.
– Pheonix Copley and Sean Walker each made their Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. Copley made six saves in relief.

The Kings are scheduled to travel home from Edmonton this evening and a practice schedule for April 26 – 29 will be announced when available.

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