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Kings still hold some advantages over Oilers as playoff series pivots to L.A.

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi battles against Kings' Sean Durzi for the puck.
Sean Durzi, left, of the Kings battles Jesse Puljujarvi of the Oilers for the puck during Game 2 on Wednesday in Edmonton, Canada.
(Codie McLachlan / Getty Images)
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There was some good news and bad news in the shellacking the Kings endured in Game 2 of their first-round NHL playoff series in Edmonton.

The bad news is the 6-0 loss was the team’s most one-sided defeat in a playoff game since April 1990, when the Oilers routed the Kings 7-0 in Edmonton. But here’s the good news: With the teams splitting the first two games in Canada, the series is now a best-of-five playoff. And with three of the next four games in Los Angeles, beginning with Game 3 on Friday, the Kings now have the home-ice advantage.

“We came here to win a game and we did,” captain Anze Kopitar said before leaving Edmonton on Thursday. “Now it’s time to go home and take care of business.”

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Added defenseman Matt Roy: “Getting one is huge. We’re excited to get back to our fans and play in front of them.”

Playing at home, however, hasn’t always been the benefit it should be for the Kings. The team has lost its last five playoff games at home, last winning there in the final game of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. That was also the last time the Kings won a postseason series.

And the Kings haven’t beaten Edmonton at home since November 2019, when their arena was still called Staples Center.

The young Kings team gets away from its identity, suffering a 6-0 rout to the Oilers that evens their Stanley Cup first-round series at 1-1, writes columnist Helene Elliott.

May 4, 2022

Speaking of streaks, Edmonton snapped one of its own with Wednesday’s win, its first in eight postseason games, while the Kings extended their scoreless skid on the power play to eight chances. In fact the Oilers, with a short-handed score Wednesday, have scored more goals on the Kings’ power play than the Kings have.

Turning the special teams play around — the Kings’ penalty kill has given up four goals in eight chances in the series —will be key if the team is to exploit the home-ice advantage. Yet coach Todd McLellan is far from panicking after just two games.

“Our power play is what our power play is. We’re [not] going to reinvent the wheel on the flight home,” said McLellan, whose team spent the night in Edmonton before flying home Thursday. “They have to execute and get the job done. Operating at zero [%] and giving up a goal is unacceptable.”

Kings' Phillip Danault, Sean Durzi, Trevor Moore, Alex Iafallo and Mikey Anderson celebrate a goal.
Kings’ Phillip Danault (24), Sean Durzi (50), Trevor Moore (12), Alex Iafallo (19) and Mikey Anderson (44) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the third period in Game 1 on Monday.
(Codie McLachlan / Getty Images)

Still the Kings do have some things besides the dubious home-ice advantage working in their favor after two games. With an average age of 28, the team entered the Edmonton series as the fourth-youngest and least-experienced team in the playoffs. But with eight Kings players getting their first taste of the postseason this week in Edmonton, the Oilers have lost much of their edge.

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“Some of our players gained a lot of experience and some of our players were reminded of what it was like too. So it was young and old,” McLellan said.

“We just got drilled on the road. But we’re mad enough to admit it and we’re going to go try and fix things. We’re not just here to gain experience. We’re here to try to win this. We’ve got to fix some things.”

Like not losing by six goals. That last happened to the Kings three weeks ago, in a 9-3 loss at Colorado. The team followed that rout by winning five straight games in regulation for the only time this season, clinching a playoff berth.

Kings left wing Alex Iafallo deserves credit for not giving up on himself because he continued to push himself, writes columnist Helene Elliott.

May 3, 2022

“We seem to be pretty quick learn[ers],” Kopitar said. “We’ll look at it, make some adjustments, address some things, improve on a few areas and get ready for Game 3.”

“The series is tied and we’re going home,” he added. “Bring it back to L.A.”

Whether that’s an advantage or not will be decided on Friday.

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