Danault scores late, Kings beat Oilers 4-3 in series opener
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Phillip Danault capitalized after a miscue by Edmonton goalie Mike Smith and scored the tiebreaking goal late in the third period, leading the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-3 win over the Oilers on Monday night in Game 1 of the opening-round playoff series.
Smith tried to clear the puck from behind his net and instead put it on the stick of a Kings player in front. Smith made a diving save, but couldn’t corral the puck. Seconds later, Danault scored at 14:46 of the third after a shot by Sean Durzi from the point.
“Playoffs are a long journey. There are going to be ups and downs,” Smith said. “It’s how you deal with it that makes you good or makes you a team that’s watching from the sidelines.”
Smith stopped 31 of 35 shots he faced for Edmonton.
“I was just trying to make something happen,” Smith said. “Obviously trying to do too much there. In a tight game like that, you can’t afford to make mistakes like that. It ended up costing us the game. Obviously disappointed, but it’s one game and we move on.”
Trevor Moore and Alex Iafallo each had a goal and assist for the Kings. Brandon Lemieux also scored.
Connor McDavid and Kailier Yamamoto each had a goal and assist for Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl rounded out the scoring with a power-play goal.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 35 saves.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Edmonton. The series shifts to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday.
For Kings’ head coach Todd McLellan, the game was a good example of how his team has played recently, with good checking, excellent goaltending and players taking advantage of their opportunities.
“We played in our skin, we played to our identity, just a carbon copy of how we’ve done it,” McLellan said.
Edmonton is in the playoffs for the third straight season, but last year’s run was brief, with the Winnipeg Jets ousting the Oilers in the first round with a four-game sweep.
The environment may have played a role in Edmonton going down 2-0 midway through the first period, McDavid said.
“There’s lots of emotion with fans back in the building and I thought we just didn’t handle it all that well,” he said. “(The Kings) got the jump on us.”
Moore opened the scoring 11 minutes into Monday’s game, ripping a shot from inside the circle over Smith’s outstretched glove.
He then set Iafallo up to give the Kings a 2-0 lead 16:52 into the first. Stationed below the goal line, Moore sent Iafallo a behind-the-back pass, and Iafallo wasted no time putting it into the Oilers’ net.
Edmonton cut the deficit before the end of the opening period with another highlight-reel worthy goal from McDavid.
The Oilers’ captain sprinted the length of the ice, holding off several Kings defenders, and fired a shot past Quick to make it 2-1 with 42 seconds left in the first.
Chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” followed from the boisterous crowd. McDavid won his fourth Art Ross Trophy this season after posting a league-best 123 points.
The Oilers evened the score early in the second with a power-play goal after Iafallo was called for tripping.
Duncan Keith fired a long-range shot and Yamamoto tipped it in 2:39 into the period.
Lemieux sent a shot sailing from the top of the faceoff circle off a rush 3:50 into the second to restore the Kings’ lead.
Edmonton tied the game again midway through the period on another power-play goal after Iafallo was called for cross-checking.
McDavid sent a pass ricocheting off a broken stick in the slot before Draisaitl settled it and sent a quick shot past Quick 9:56 into the second.
Edmonton went 2 for 4 with the man advantage. The Kings were 0 for 4.
NOTES: Defenseman Darnell Nurse returned to the Oilers’ lineup after missing four games with a knee injury. … The Kings were playing without Viktor Arvidsson, who left practice early on Saturday. The winger had 49 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 66 games this season. … Monday marked the first playoff game between the Oilers and Kings since 1992, when Edmonton bested Los Angeles in a six-game series in the division semifinals.
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