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Kings’ Blake Lizotte ruled out of Game 3 vs. Oilers because of lower-body injury

Los Angeles Kings' Blake Lizotte (46) and Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) battle for the puck
Kings’ Blake Lizotte and Oilers’ Kailer Yamamoto battle for the puck April 17 in Edmonton.
(Jason Franson / Associated Press)
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The Kings were forced to make an unplanned lineup change Friday before Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers when third-line center Blake Lizotte was ruled out because of a lower-body injury.

Based on line rushes in their game-day skate, it appeared Jaret Anderson-Dolan would get a spot Friday night at Crypto.com Arena in a series that’s tied 1-1. Gabe Vilardi, who started his career as a center but was later moved to the wing, was scheduled to center the third line.

Winger Kevin Fiala remained out because of an undisclosed injury that prevented him from playing in the first two games. Coach Todd McLellan said only that Fiala is “getting better.”

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Vilardi spent some time at center during the Kings’ 4-2 loss on Wednesday in Edmonton, scoring the goal that tied it at 2-2 while winning five of 11 faceoffs. It was his first game back since an injury led him to miss the last few weeks of the regular season and the Kings’ series-opening 4-3 overtime victory.

The Kings cannot continue to expect to sleepwalk in the first period and come back later against the Oilers who have edges in scoring, skill and size.

April 20, 2023

“In an ideal world Gabe would have had more time with the group, but he did a real good job of coming into a game that was tough to play, obviously, with the start we had,” McLellan said, referring to the team’s flat early efforts.

Lizotte, generously listed on the Kings’ roster as 5 feet 9 and 170 pounds, took many hits from the bigger, more physical Oilers in the first two games. He’s a defense-oriented center and had 11 goals and 34 points in 81 regular-season games. He had no points in the first two games.

Having home-ice advantage gives the Kings a chance to get matchups they want because they’ll have the last change, but McLellan said the advantage is real only if players are playing well.

“Our home-ice advantage is going to be all those fans doing what they do, and the energy that they create, and us playing off of that,” he said. “We, just like Edmonton has, we have passionate fans that can energize the building and the team, and we’re hoping we can capture a bit of that.”

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