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Hyman, McDavid lead Oilers to 7-4 playoff win over Kings


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EDMONTON — For once the Edmonton Oilers won’t have to dig themselves out of a hole to start the NHL playoffs.

Zach Hyman had three goals and an assist, Connor McDavid had five assists, and the Oilers ended their series-opening jinx with a 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Monday’s start to the first-round, best-of-seven series.

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“I thought we had a good start, I thought we were good in the first period, worked our way to a 2-0 lead and I thought we showed good energy and we played really well in the first,” McDavid said.

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Adam Henrique, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Warren Foegele also scored, and Evan Bouchard chipped in with four assists for the Oilers who had lost the first game of their last seven playoff series and had not won Game 1 of a series on home ice since 1990.

“I thought it was a great overall performance,” Bouchard said. “We got on them early like we wanted to do, got up on them. They pushed, but we battled back and it worked out in our favour.

“Whenever you can get up in a series it’s always a good feeling, especially the way we did it.”

Edmonton is 21-3 all-time when taking a 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven series.

Mikey Anderson, Adrian Kempe, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Trevor Moore scored for the Kings, who were eliminated in the opening round by the Oilers in each of the previous two seasons.

“That’s not our model. That’s not the way we play. It’s frustrating,” said veteran Kings defenceman Drew Doughty. “We just have to put that game in the past and get back to doing what we do best and that’s playing good two-way hockey.

“We’re down 1-0, but we can easily win and make it 1-1 next game. We have to put it behind us, and learn from what we did wrong and fix what we did wrong and bring it into the next game.”

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Hyman, who rang a shot off the post a few minutes earlier, started the scoring seven minutes into the opening period. McDavid spun off a defender and then sent a backhand pass in front to Hyman, who beat Kings goalie Cam Talbot. Hyman had 54 goals in the regular season.

Edmonton made it 2-0 less than three minutes later as Henrique, who was picked up at the trade deadline from Anaheim, unleashed a perfect wrist shot top corner for his first goal in his first post-season appearance in six years. Henrique set a Stanley Cup playoff record for the longest span between goals, his last goal coming 4,333 days earlier when he was in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final in 2012 with the New Jersey Devils.

McDavid continued to work his magic five minutes into the second period as he once again spun out from behind the net and sent another pretty backhand pass in front to Hyman for his second of the night. The goal came right on the heels of the Kings’ best opportunity to that point when Viktor Arvidsson was stopped on a breakaway by Oilers starter Stuart Skinner.

Edmonton added another goal on the power play 8:24 into the second period as Draisaitl spotted Nugent-Hopkins at the backdoor to make it 4-0.

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The Kings finally got on the board with nine minutes to play in the second period as Anderson sent a long shot through traffic that got past Skinner for his first career playoff goal.

Los Angeles looked to have struck again a minute-and-a-half later, but a video review indicated that a shot went off of Trevor Lewis’s glove and was directed into the net and did not count.

The Kings got that goal back with 2:04 to play in the middle frame as Kempe sent a shot on net that deflected off of defender Bouchard and into the Oilers net.

Edmonton’s vaunted power play struck again 1:08 into the third as Draisaitl scored from a tough angle with a laser of a shot.

The Oilers scored a third power-play goal 6:17 into the third period as Hyman took up position at the side of the net and allowed McDavid to bank it off his stick and in for the hat trick, the first of his career in the playoffs.

Oiler fans peppered the ice with 1,131 hats.

“It is good for the Oilers Store,” Hyman laughed. “That is crazy. I have never seen so many hats. It is pretty special to do it here in front of the fans.”

The Kings made the score line look a bit better with three minutes to play as a Dubois shot that was way off target hit defender Darnell Nurse’s skate and surprised Skinner. Then Oiler defenceman Cody Ceci’s stick exploded to give the Kings a turnover deep in Edmonton territory and Moore scored with 71 seconds to play.

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The Kings pulled Talbot, but Foegele scored an empty-netter to seal the deal.

NOTES

It is the third consecutive season that the Oilers and Kings have met in the first round, the first time two teams have done so in more than 20 years. Edmonton won in seven games in 2022 and in six games in 2023. … Both teams replaced their head coaches this season after tough stretches, with Kris Knoblauch taking over for Jay Woodcroft for the Oilers on Nov. 12, and Jim Hiller subbing in for Todd McLellan on Feb. 2. … Evander Kane returned to the Oilers lineup after missing the final week of regular-season play with a sports hernia. … Kings veteran Anze Kopitar played in his 93rd career playoff game, passing Dustin Brown, Dave Taylor and Jonathan Quick for second most in Kings history. He is only one game back of all-time playoff leader Luc Robitaille. … Los Angeles forward Trevor Lewis skated in his 100th career playoff game, while McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins each played their 50th.

UP NEXT

Game 2 is in Edmonton on Wednesday. Game 3 takes place on Friday in Los Angeles.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2024.

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