Kings look uninspired in Game 1 loss to Edmonton

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 22: Edmonton Oilers Defenceman Evan Bouchard (2) celebrates a goal.

When the Edmonton Oilers abandoned the Northlands Coliseum for their handsome new downtown home eight years ago, the collection of office towers, hotels and restaurants that sprang up around Rogers Place became known collectively as the Ice District.

For the Kings, the name alone has had a chilling effect because Rogers Place is where the team’s last two playoff campaigns started — and both were put on ice in first-round losses to the Oilers.

The Kings were back in Edmonton for the third installment of their postseason trilogy Monday and the first act did not go well, with the Oilers scoring twice in the first 10 minutes on their way to a 7-4 win.

Read more: Why Kings vs. Oilers is one of the NHL’s truly great rivalries

Zach Hyman finished with three goals and an assist, Adam Henrique and Leon Draisaitl each had one goal and an assist and Connor McDavid had five helpers to lead an Oilers performance that was as efficient as it was one-sided.

Mikey Anderson and Adrian Kempe each scored in the second period, and Pierre-Luc Dubois and Trevor Moore scored late in the third period for the Kings who, aside from a brief span late in the second period, were overmatched.

It will take at least a week to find out how much that result will mean since the Kings beat the Oilers in the playoff opener in each of the last two seasons, only to lose the series. And the last time the Oilers won the first game of a postseason series, they wound up losing to the Ducks in the second round in 2017.

But for a veteran Kings team featuring 14 players off last season’s postseason roster, it was a troubling start.

The Kings wanted to set the tone and instead they came up flat, conceding the first four goals while giving up 45 shots overall.

The Kings turned shaky after the first five minutes and it didn’t take long for the Oilers to take advantage, with Hyman deflecting a McDavid pass from the edge of the left circle to give Edmonton the lead 6:52 into the game.

On the play, McDavid reached to control a loose puck at the blue line, deking toward the center of the ice, then spinning away from Anderson before passing to Hyman in the slot for a tap-in.

Henrique doubled the Oilers’ lead less than three minutes later, scoring on a wrister from the center of the left circle off an assist from Hyman.

The Kings’ best chance in the first 30 minutes came early in the second period when a turnover in the neutral zone launched Viktor Arvidsson on a breakaway with only Edmonton goalie Stuart Skinner to beat. But his wrist shot was wide of the net, the Oilers controlled the rebound and 20 seconds later Hyman scored again to make 3-0.

Kings Goalie Cam Talbot positions himself to stop a shot by Oilers forward Zach Hyman.Kings Goalie Cam Talbot positions himself to stop a shot by Oilers forward Zach Hyman.

Kings Goalie Cam Talbot positions himself to stop a shot by Oilers forward Zach Hyman during the first period of Game 1. (Curtis Comeau / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

McDavid again set up the goal, this time spinning away from Drew Doughty, who got caught in traffic behind the Kings’ net, and centering the puck to a wide-open Hyman at the bottom edge of the right circle.

The Kings, who haven’t won a playoff series in a decade, entered the postseason healthier than they were at any point during the regular season and boasted the NHL’s second-best penalty kill, something they hoped would act as kryptonite to the Oilers’ deadly power play. But even that didn’t work, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scoring the first of three power-play goals to make it 4-0 at 8:44 of the middle period.

Anderson finally got the Kings on the board at 10:56 of the second period, blasting a slap shot past Skinner from between the blue line and left circle, and Kempe made it a two-goal game when he circled behind the net and deflected a shot in off the skate of Oilers defenseman Evan Bouchard with 2:04 left before the second intermission.

Read more: ‘I think we owe them.’ Kings eager to flip the script with Oilers in the NHL playoffs

But the Kings gave back whatever momentum they had earned when Draisaitl and Hyman scored power-play goals in the opening 6:27 of the final period.

The Kings got a couple of meaningless goals from Dubois and Moore in the final 3:04 late before Warren Foegele closed the scoring for Edmonton with a empty-net goal with 26 seconds to play.

The Kings have precious little time to regroup as the series continues Wednesday at Rogers Place before moving to Arena for Game 3 and Game 4 on Friday and Sunday.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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