Smith shuts door as Oilers stomp Kings in Game 2
Mike Smith wanted to atone for a mishandled puck — and he did it in dramatic fashion on Wednesday.
The veteran goalie posted a 30-save shutout to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a decisive 6-0 victory over the L.A. Kings in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
Smith didn't think he played poorly in Game 1 on Monday, but admitted a mishandled puck late in the third period proved fatal as his side dropped a 4-3 decision to the Kings.
"I made one bad play and it cost us the game," he said Wednesday after collecting his fifth career playoff shutout.
"I think I just carried the same kind of mindset into tonight and obviously wanted to put in a good showing, especially after you feel like you’re maybe the cause of the loss. A bounceback is obviously important and obviously tonight the team played more up to the capabilities of how we’re able to play and we got rewarded because of it.”
Head coach Jay Woodcroft wasn't surprised to see his goalie rebound.
"That is a true pro," he said. "I thought he made some really good saves in Game 1 as well. It was an unfortunate puck handle. But … we moved on to preparing for Game 2 and he led the way in his preparation. I thought he went out and executed tonight."
Smith's efforts in net were complimented by an offensive outburst that saw Evander Kane notch two goals and an assist and Ryan McLeod tally one of each. Jesse Puljujarvi, Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl all scored, and Connor McDavid and Evan Bouchard contributed a pair of assists for the Oilers, who evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
Jonathan Quick stopped 30-of-36 shots for the Kings.
“Sometimes you tip your hat to the opposition, they played a really good game," said L.A.'s head coach Todd McLellan.
The loss will prove to be a lesson for a young Kings team that saw eight players make their post-season debut on Monday, he added.
"A lot of guys had their eyes opened up in terms of what playoffs is all about and others were reminded to what playoffs are all about," he said.
The power play proved to be a difference maker for both sides with the Oilers going 2 for 4 with the man advantage and the Kings 0 for 4.
"It seems that special teams, these first couple games throughout the league, have been very important," Kane said. "The other night we won the special teams battle and lost the game — that doesn't happen very often. Tonight, we did a great job again, and that's going to have to be continued throughout the rest of our journey here.”
The Oilers put away their second power-play goal of the night 11:55 into the third after Quinton Byfield was called for holding.
Kane fired in a snap shot from inside the faceoff circle for his second goal of the night.
Edmonton jumped out to a 5-0 lead 3:23 into the third when Puljujarvi collected a pass across the slot from McDavid and ripped a shot over Quick's glove.
Just 21 seconds earlier, Kane capitalized when Sean Druzi bobbled a puck in the slot in front of the Kings' net and the Oilers winger tipped it in for his first goal of the post-season.
The Oilers took a 3-0 cushion into the third period after Evan Bouchard sent a bomb sailing from just inside the blue line and tipped it past Quick 16:05 into the second.
L.A. got their third man advantage of the night earlier in the period after Kailer Yamamoto was called for slashing, but it was Edmonton that found the back of the net.
McDavid and Nurse charged down the ice and Nurse fired a wrist shot that deflected off the Kings' Arthur Kaliyev and over Quick's glove to give the Oilers a 2-0 lead 6:03 into the period.
After a goalless first, Edmonton opened the scoring on the power play after Dustin Brown was called for goaltender interference early in the second.
Tyson Barrie sliced a crisp pass to Draisaitl in the far faceoff circle and the star sniper blasted a one-timer past Quick for his second goal of the playoffs.
“The second period was a breakout period for us and it was led by our leaders who went out and scored a huge power-play goal and kind of broke the ice for us," Woodcroft said. "It was a strong game, 20 players deep, in our lineup tonight.”
L.A. controlled much of the action through the first, outshooting the home side 12-6 with five minutes left in the opening frame, thanks in large part to a pair of power plays.
Alex Iafallo had the best chance for the Kings 12:17 into the game with a backhander that ricocheted off the post before Smith kicked it out of the crease.
“We didn’t play hard enough, really," said L.A. centre Anze Kopitar. "We got some power-play opportunities and we couldn’t convert and they did. It was a big turning point in the game and couldn’t really get going.”
The series now moves to L.A. for Game 3 on Friday, with the Kings also hosting Game 4 on Sunday. Game 5 goes Tuesday in Edmonton.
NOTES: L.A. is 0 for 8 on the power play through the first two games of the series. Edmonton is 4 for 8 … Kings winger Viktor Arvidsson missed a second straight game with an undisclosed injury … Winger Josh Archibald slotted into Edmonton's lineup as head coach Jay Woodcroft opted to play 12 forwards and six defencemen.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2022.