LOS ANGELES, CA -- The Oilers raced out to an early two-goal lead but the Los Angeles Kings rallied and ultimately two goals by the opposition in the first half of the third period were the difference in a 6-4 loss to L.A. on Tuesday night.
"I think anytime you give up five goals (not including the empty-netter) in a game there's some things you're not very happy with. I thought we had some really really good performances from some individuals and some quite poor ones," said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan after the game.
"The ones who were at the poor end have to look at their game and evaluate what went right and what didn't go right. At this time of the year, that little lull between playoffs and finishing up the regular season, you can't let your game dip. We talked about that as a team. There's not enough practice time, there's not enough games to get it back," McLellan continued.
Only 1:40 into the third period in a 3-3 game, the Kings pulled in front. Trevor Lewis crashed the net as a rebound ricocheted off of him and in past Oilers netminder Cam Talbot.
The Kings padded their lead midway through the third on a wrist shot by Tanner Pearson from the high slot that beat Talbot top corner and made it 5-3.
The Oilers looked to have drawn within a goal after Darnell Nurse's shot from the point found its way past Jonathan Quick with six minutes to go. The goal went to video review to determine if Leon Draisaitl had tipped it with a high stick and after checking with mission control it was ruled a good goal, awarded to Nurse.
Edmonton pressed for the equalizer but an empty-net goal from the other end of the ice by Drew Doughty sealed the deal.
"The game didn't have a lot of emotion in it," McLellan stated. "We played some real emotionally charged games over the last little bit. Perhaps that affected us a little bit. Details (such as) we were 2-for-16 in the faceoff circle in the first period. Those types of situational battles, when we're engaged and going hard, we play better in those situations."
Anze Kopitar took a penalty only 33 seconds into the game, clipping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with a high stick and drawing blood. The result was an early four-minute power play for the Oilers.
On the ensuing man advantage, the Oilers survived several scares from the Kings including a two-on-one that was aptly broken up by a nice diving play from Andrej Sekera.
Edmonton then struck for the game's first.
With only two seconds remaining in Kopitar's first minor, McDavid drove the puck to the net only to be denied by Jonathan Quick. But Milan Lucic was at the doorstep to put the puck in through the legs of the Kings netminder.
Because the Oilers got it in under the wire with 2:02 left, the team had two more minutes to try and get another with the man advantage but the Kings were able to kill it off.
After the Kopitar penalty, the Kings started to pick up the play and push for the equalizer.
Jonny Brodzinski's took a shot that rang off the post behind Talbot and then it was cleared out of harm's way by Zack Kassian. Talbot came up big several other times to keep it 1-0.
With 8:47 to go in the first, from behind the net, Jordan Eberle spotted Nugent-Hopkins at the side of the cage and RNH used his quick hands to snap the puck past an outstretched Quick and extend the Oilers lead to 2-0.
Shots on goal after one were 8-7 for the Oilers.
The Kings got a goal back 2:22 into the middle frame. After Kris Russell poked the puck away from Dustin Brown, Brodzinski directed the puck on net. It was redirected in front by Nick Shore through the legs of Talbot. The goal was Brodzinski's first career NHL point in only his fourth game.
Six minutes into the period, Adam Larsson received two minutes for holding, sending the Kings to their first power play of the game but Oilers were able to kill it off. Edmonton was shorthanded again midway through the second on a Kassian holding minor.
30 seconds after the Kassian penalty expired, the Kings kept the pressure on. Matt Benning lost his stick and the puck slipped over to Dustin Brown in the high slot. His wrister beat Talbot to make it a tie game.
Three minutes after the tying goal, the Kings took the lead for the first time. Nic Dowd pounced on a rebound and backhanded the puck past Talbot to make it 3-2 Kings but the Oilers got that one back quickly. In 76 seconds, to be precise.
Kassian made a nice play off the wall to dish the puck over to Nugent-Hopkins and number 93 made no mistake, getting in behind the L.A. defence and deking out Quick for the goal.
Coach McLellan was impressed with Lucic, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins on the night.
"I thought they were tremendous. I thought Nuge had one of his better games of the season. Milan has been good for a long, long time. Ebs competed in a heavy, hard game which was very good for us. And I thought that (Mark) Letestu's line also had a good night," he said.
Letestu echoed a lot of the coach's sentiments after the game.
"It was leaking tonight. Six goals, you're not going to win any games giving up six. Better now than a couple weeks from now but it's a lesson you've better learn real quick," Letestu began.
"We can take losing when we're still structurally sound and the execution is there. It felt like we gave away from Grade A opportunities tonight. We didn't really make them work for their offence."
Next up for the Oilers is a key contest against their most likely first-round opponent on Thursday in San Jose. Coach McLellan was quick to point that out in his post-game comments.
"We've got to get better and we've got a big one coming up in a couple nights."