Edmonton – The most potent hockey cliché is that you must play the full 60 to win the playoffs.
The Edmonton Oilers tried to win a playoff in about 15 minutes of hockey that they deemed appropriate for the occasion, and in the end they got exactly what they deserved. So did the Los Angeles kings.
Adrian Kempe scored at 1:12 of the overtime session to give Los Angeles a 5-4 win and a 3-2 lead over an Edmonton side that looked like a very big moment in Game 5.
“We haven’t had our best game yet,” said Oilers captain Conor McDavid, who carried his teammates back in the third half with a goal and two key passes that night. “They are a good team… so it will take a full match to beat them. We are not there yet.”
Was MacDavid inferring that a lot of his teammates didn’t show up? We suspected that was what he meant, although it would have been spot on if he had.
Even Leon Drysitl – sick or injured or both – saved his impact for two goals in the third half, but he wasn’t a relevant player in the opening 40 minutes or overtime. As for the rest of the group, there were too many passengers here even for the mighty MacDavid crossing the finish line.
“As the match progressed, we found more and more players,” coach Jay Woodcroft offered. “Going down early, it proved to be very difficult to climb a hill.”
Did the Edmonton Oilers suffocate?
This may have given the Kings a short spell, as they had a lot to do with the Oilers’ part-time performance. But we’ll say this: Team Oilers who’ve had the series in the palm of their hand — at home for a game of Serial Transformation 5 — are spitting big time here, showing up microscopically in a moment that demanded far more than what Team McDavid delivered on Tuesday night.
Draisaitl’s assessment: “We’re becoming over-talked early on.” “Once we found our legs it was a lot better for us. But yes, obviously five goals against her are not going to take her down.”
It was an extra session in which the Oilers never gained any meaningful possession of the disc, as Kempe passed Duncan Keith and beat Mike Smith, who was only good at this game, in a move to undo his earlier playoffs.
The Kings are leading this series 3-2 back to LA, and they should be feeling pretty good about themselves this morning.
The Oilers, on the other hand, are set to take a long look in the mirror to see how they can trot out their worst effort in the series in the hottest game.
Sure enough, Edmonton faked a heroic comeback in the third inning to force overtime. But this end result is deceptive – the Kings were the better team for more than just the lion’s share of this team.
“We scored four goals tonight. That should be enough in a playoff game,” McDavid said. “It’s clearly not. We have to keep the disk off our network.”
Somehow, the Oilers have now lost five straight playoffs in which both Drytail and McDavid both score.
It was the first overtime game of the series, and only the fourth time in the first round across the NHL. But it was the way this game got into overtime that Rogers Place sold out apoplectic, a return for the ages on a night when the home team didn’t look like they had nearly anything exciting to do.
After a completely disappointing opening 40 minutes, Edmonton scored three times while losing one, with Draisaitl getting in at 12:33 (reduction) and 15:08 to tie the match. Woodcroft went to whip up his best players, pairing Draisaitl and McDavid throughout the frame, and the duo earned Edmonton in extra time they had no business to get to.
After 40 minutes the score was 3-1 for the Kings, and they advanced with their shots on goal 25-14 as well. That’s right, in a game that will define their season, this powerful machine who collected 14 goals in games 2 and 3 had many shots at the net in 40 minutes.
“It’s disappointing,” MacDavid said. “Obviously, (you) never like to lose. But they give you seven games for a reason and we need to go get one on the road and bring it back to Edmonton.”
We can discuss whether the Oilers choked on Game 5, or whether the Kings should take more credit than that.
But unless Edmonton sets up a winning streak, starting Thursday in Los Angeles, the “C” word will define that streak and this team.
You can never lose again, to another team that finished below you in the standings, calling it nothing else.