(Edmonton) The roles are reversed.
In their first-round playoff matchup last year, the Edmonton Oilers took a 2-1 lead before seeing the Los Angeles Kings win the next two games.
The Oilers had to play desperate hockey in Game 6 to survive elimination. They did, and they eventually won the series.
This year, the results were different after five games played. It was the Kings who held a 2-1 lead before suffering two losses. They now face elimination on Saturday night at Crypto.com Arena.
Knowing what it was like last year to play Game 6 with no tomorrow, the Oilers get a sense of the sense of urgency that was built in the Kings locker room.
“When elimination is possible, with potentially two games left in the series, the urgency is high on both sides. We have to take this level higher than them. »
Despair. Emergency. These words are spoken whenever there are one-night stands. Both within the team that faces elimination and the one that holds the advantage.
“I know it’s going to be a desperate hockey club,” Oilers winger Kailer Yamamoto said. To have played in this kind of match last year, there is a lot of pressure and nervousness. There is a lot of adrenaline so I know they will give everything tomorrow. »
What happens with one-night stands is that they often play out in two ways: either the two teams push each other into an emotional duel, or they are cautious and the game is close.
After their Game 5 loss in Edmonton, the Kings swore they would get off to a better start on Saturday. The Los Angeles squad trailed 2-0 in the last game and they had to play catch-up hockey.
“We need to be more confident early on,” Kings veteran Anze Kopitar said after Game 5. This is not the start we were looking for and needed. »
It is often said that the first goal is important in the playoffs and that delays are difficult to erase, but not in this series. We’ve seen teams go 2-0 and 3-0 ahead, but they haven’t held on. The Kings took a 3-0 lead in Game 4, but lost in overtime.
Despite the small and bizarre history of this series, the Oilers feel like they can’t afford another bad start against the Kings.
“Watch the last game in their amphitheater. We were trailing 3-0 after 10 or 15 minutes. I know they are going to be looking for another good start to the game and we have to resist,” Yamamoto expressed.