It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Oilers dominate a playoff game like the one we saw on Wednesday night.
They swept in the first round of the All-Canadian League last season and only had one win in the bubble playoffs in 2020. In order to find the Oilers’ last dominant, top-to-bottom beating of their opponent in the playoff, you have to go back to the last time they had Fans in the building – May 7, 2016.
After two heartbreaking losses to the Anaheim Ducks, including a loss marked by three goals, the Oilers entered their sixth must-win game at home and exploded to seal a 7-1 victory.
While this was not Technically A game that must be won, it definitely felt that way heading into Game 2 given the way things have been for the Oilers in the playoffs in the past couple of years. The last thing this team wanted was to return to Los Angeles with a two-game lead. Now, with their 6-0 win, they’re hitting the road with all that momentum.
The Oilers came out of the gate flying, but couldn’t get anything past two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick in the first period. On the flip side, Mike Smith, who dumped the first game at great cost at the end of the third inning, was solid when he needed to be behind a solid Edmonton defense.
Despite Quick’s strong play early on, the Oilers kept the pressure coming and finally broke through early in the second period. Leon Drysittel scored a one-time goal in strong play to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead, and a few minutes later Darnell Norse scored a short-range goal while Kyler Yamamoto was in the penalty area.
He quickly turned from worrying that the Oilers would immediately lead 1-0 to the realization that this was a game they weren’t going to lose.
Sportsnet May 5 2022
There was really no point where the Oilers ever took their foot off the gas in this game. They scored again before the break to make it 3-0 and then scored three more times in the third to escape with it. I wouldn’t blame anyone for continuing to worry about Oilers protecting a three-goal playoff lead, so it was good to see the team continue to press forward rather than wait again in their wake in a defensive shell.
High energy from the attackers, smart play from the defenders, strong shooting from Mike Smith. It was a comprehensive effort and the results speak for themselves. The Oilers reminded everyone on Wednesday that they are the team to beat in this series.
“Sometimes you tip your hat to the opponent. They played a really good game. This is called tonight’s trial. A lot of players have opened their eyes as to what the playoffs are all about, and others have been reminded of what the playoffs are all about.” – Kings coach Todd McClellan said this game is a learning experience for his young team.
“Obviously Shamdi was fantastic tonight. He was very sharp for us early on, especially in the penalties. He did a great job. Personally, I didn’t expect anything less from him. He’s very tough mentally. A mistake was made, it happens All the time, and he was a great performance. We have great confidence in him as a group.” – Evander Kane talks about the team’s confidence in Mike Smith.
“This is an electric building around this time of year, and as gamers, you feed the energy that they bring in. For us, we want to play as long as we can so we can enjoy this for as long as possible. It’s fun to have the fans not just at the rink, but after partying. With matches. It gives the group a lot of life.” – Nurse Darnell is fed up with the energy of the fans.
“I said when Dave (Manson) and I came from Bakersfield, we want to make this community proud. We want this team to embody the values of this community. It’s an asset to the players because they’re working their tails off. I’ve been on the other side of it in a watershed too (as a visitor). ) and watched how the fans motivate the team. I can tell you everyone hears it in the dressing room.” – Jay Woodcroft in his first National Hockey League win.
- The Oilers cut a seven-game playoff losing streak with this win, returning to the bubble streak in 2020 with the Blackhawks. Mike Smith cut a 10-game losing streak of his own by closing 30 saves. His most recent first-round win came in 2019 when the Calgary Flames upset eighth-seeded Colorado Avalanche. This win was also marked by the closing of 26 saves from Smith.
- The interesting thing to look at is how the ice time was distributed in Game 1 compared to Game 2. In the first game, Edmonton played five attackers over a 20-minute period and the top four defenders were playing significantly more than the other three were wearing. In the second match, the ice time was evenly distributed, with Evan Bouchard and Duncan Keith being the only players who watched more than 20 minutes and the captain of the strikers was Kyler Yamamoto, who played 17:24. Everyone got a chance to participate in the game and everyone contributed.
- The other thing that was notable about this game compared to the last was the physique that Edmonton brought to the table. There seemed to be almost shyness with the way they played in Game 1, but in Game 2, they went out and set the pace with speed and fitness. Zach Cassian appeared and delivered six hits, Josh Archibald was back in the lineup and delivered five hits, and even Conor McDavid took part and delivered a few big hits. It’s hard for the Kings to get ahead of anything when the Oilers are constantly attacking them at speed.