60 minutes of hockey is played for a reason.
And, down 3-0 heading into the first intermission Sunday, the Edmonton Oilers used all of those 60 minutes to rally back, proving to the world that this team should not be counted out, and that they are a legitimate contender to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Oilers who started the game were a much different hockey club than the one that closed it out. Digging themselves into a 3-0 deficit, Edmonton would head into the first intermission with many questions that needed to be answered quickly if it was to stay competitive in Los Angeles.
The Oilers used the middle frame of the second period to slowly chip away at Los Angeles’ seemingly insurmountable lead that was built up in the first period. Evan Bouchard kicked things off on the power play with a blast from the point. Then, Leon Draisaitl – who’s been on fire with nine points in four games – netted his fourth goal of the 2023 postseason with a nice needle-threader from the slot.
Draisaitl would not be done there, however: the German star fired a one-timer from the bumper on the power play to tie it at three apiece with 11 seconds remaining in the second period.
The Kings were stunned, but not paralyzed. Los Angeles’ Matt Roy reignited the 18,000 and some Crypto.com Arena faithful by backhanding the puck past the Oilers’ Jack Campbell, who came in relief of a yanked Stuart Skinner after the first period.
But Campbell stood strong, stopping 27/28 shots faced. And when the heat was on, he came up big, making stops such as this highlight reel-worthy save to keep Edmonton in the game.
For the rest of the third period, the Kings did a solid job neutralizing the Oilers in five-on-five play. L.A. played stingy at the blue line, forcing Edmonton to dump and chase the puck into its offensive zone after entries were stymied.
But late in the third, Evander Kane came up clutch to fling one past Joonas Korpisalo to tie it. And Zach Hyman, just about 10 minutes into overtime, roofed one past the Kings’ tender to tie the series at two apiece.
Edmonton needs to win two more games to advance to the second for the second time in as many years. And for them to do so, the Oilers need to see more production from their lines that don’t include the stars of Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
It was evident in game three, when the only Oiler to have made the scorer’s sheet in the goalscoring category was Connor McDavid, and both of those times came on the power play.
But when said stars are able to crack through the Kings’ defense, the stars are able to align, and it’s been noticeable four games through the series. Leon Draisaitl potted two Sunday night. Evander Kane tallied his second goal of the playoffs and first non-empty netter in the waning minutes of the third period. And Zach Hyman turned Alberta’s capital city into a frenzy after sealing it in overtime.
The Oilers know the recipe for success in the playoffs needs to come from its bottom-six line and solid goaltending. They’re still waiting for the production from its third and fourth lines, but if Campbell starts in game five, it’s comforting to know that they can rely on him. After all, he signed that massive five-year, $25 million contract in the offseason to come up big in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Game five is Tuesday night, and coverage can be found starting at 10 p.m. on ESPN2.