Jonathan Quick, Kings bounce back in Game 4, even series with Oilers – Daily News

LOS ANGELES –– The Kings spent an entire season defying the odds and on Sunday night they extended a resilient campaign that has undermined experts from start to finish.

They orchestrated a 4-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Arena to even their best-of-seven first-round playoff series at 2-2.

Entering the year, the Kings were widely projected to turn in a fourth straight miserable march to nowhere. Heading into Sunday’s match, they lingered in the towering shadow cast by two consecutive six-goal losses that appeared to swing the series dramatically in Edmonton’s favor.

But Game 4 saw a pivot back toward the puck-hunting, prediction-bucking Kings that gutted out an unforeseen return to the playoffs amid adverse circumstances, and Stanley Cup-winning goalie Jonathan Quick grabbed hold of his teammates and confidently pulled them back into this series.

“As bad as those games felt, the series wasn’t out of hand at all and now we’re back to all square, and we’ll try and worry about the next one,” said defenseman Mikey Anderson, who doled out a game-high six hits.

Winger Carl Grundstrom, who missed Game 3 due to injury, led the way with two goals and an assist. Forward Trevor Moore and defenseman Troy Stecher, who made his first postseason appearance as a King, each contributed a goal and an assist.

The 36-year-old Quick dazzled after being pulled in Game 3. He made 31 saves in a resplendent shutout that harkened back to his dominant playoff performances of the 2010s. In fact, his last postseason shutout came in Game 3 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. He now holds the record for most playoff shutouts by an American netminder, having surpassed his idol, Mike Richter.

Edmonton’s Mike Smith stopped 42 of 45 shots in defeat. He has won just two of his past 13 postseason decisions.

The Kings, who earned their first home playoff win since 2014, carried a 34-18 advantage in shots on goal into the second intermission. They had to absorb more of the play early in the third period as Edmonton’s strategy became more risk-on and its game grew more frenetic.

But midway through the period, Edmonton’s sustained offensive-zone time led not to a Kings penalty but rather an offensive-zone interference minor on Edmonton star Connor McDavid. That relieved the mounting pressure and though the Kings did not score on the power play, they sealed Edmonton’s fate with a marker by Grundstrom with 4:54 remaining. He also added an empty-net goal with 91 seconds to play.

As Grundstrom drove the net, he was pushed and taken down from behind by defenseman Darnell Nurse. While Grundstrom continued sliding toward Smith, he slipped the puck past him as all three men formed a pile of humanity in the crease, where both teams promptly gathered for pushing, shoving and two separate video reviews that upheld the goal.

“Pretty darn good night for (Grundstrom). He’s been a really good player for us down the stretch, a trusting player, reliable,” McLellan said.

A first period free of power plays aided the Kings in leaping out to a 2-0 lead, but in the second they had to kill a pair of penalties and did so with aplomb. Edmonton managed just two shots in four minutes with the man advantage, and the Kings’ PK triumphed for a change Sunday.

In the final two minutes of the period, it was Quick again repelling an Edmonton offensive. After losing his glove, he made a barehanded save on winger Kailer Yamamoto, whose shot struck Quick and then the crossbar. He would recover, still sans mitt, to make a blocker save on a subsequent bid from winger Evander Kane, eliciting a roar from the crowd.

“You just see the puck and try to get something in front of it,” said the always understated Quick, while McLellan lobbied softly for a rule change that stops play immediately in that situation as the NHL presently dictates when a goalie loses his helmet, but not his glove or skate blade.

Less than three minutes into the second period, the Kings nearly scored during a goalmouth scramble but winger Brendan Lemieux was pulled from behind and away from a puck lying loose in front of the goal line. Center Phillip Danault would later turn a takeaway into a breakaway, only to be foiled by Smith.

Before the game, the Kings spoke of grasping the heft of the moment and playing opportunistically. Despite energy and alacrity early, they could not convert on their first two prime chances.

Right off the hop, defenseman Alex Edler’s shot generated a sterling followup opportunity for Moore that went for naught. Center Blake Lizotte later slammed the puck against the post with a huge opening to shoot at from close range.

That all changed eight minutes into the first, when Moore scored the sort of close-quarters goal that was surely a welcome sight on the bench and in the stands alike. A dump-in allowed the Kings’ forecheck to get set up and Grundstrom to recover the puck. It popped toward the goal, where Danault darted in on his backhand to pull Smith toward the right post. Instead of shooting, he dropped a pass for Moore at the left upright for a tap-in tally.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.