May 26th, 2024

Kane makes impact with Gordie Howe hat trick, Oilers rout Kings to take series lead

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on April 27, 2024.

Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid, right, celebrates his goal with left wing Zach Hyman, second from right, as Los Angeles Kings goaltender Cam Talbot, centre, kneels in goal while defenceman Vladislav Gavrikov, left, and centre Blake Lizotte watch during Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series Friday, April 26, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES – Evander Kane’s teammates believe he’s tailor-made for the playoffs, and so does the man himself.

“The drama of it all,” Kane said about the post-season. “It just brings the best out of me.”

Kane had a goal, an assist and a fight – known as a “Gordie Howe hat trick” – and the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings 6-1 on Friday to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

The 32-year-old forward had an up-and-down regular season and is returning from a sports hernia injury, but earned a promotion to the Oilers’ second line on Friday and took full advantage.

Two years ago, Kane scored 13 goals in 15 games when Edmonton reached the Conference final.

“Evander’s game is suited for this type of style,” winger Zach Hyman said. “He plays physical, goes to the hard areas, he scores. You can’t ask for more.

“He’s been doing it for three years, not just tonight.”

Hyman and Leon Draisaitl – with an assist – scored twice for Edmonton, which fell 5-4 to the Kings in overtime on Wednesday. Hyman increased his playoff-leading goal total to six.

Captain Connor McDavid produced a goal and two assists, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pitched in with three helpers as the Oilers’ top players filled the stat sheet. Stuart Skinner made 27 saves for the win.

Drew Doughty replied with his second goal of the playoffs for Los Angeles and Cam Talbot stopped 35 shots.

The red-hot Edmonton power play went 3-for-8 and the Kings were 0-for-5. Edmonton improved to 7-for-14 with the man advantage this series and remained a perfect 0-for-10 on the penalty kill.

“They’re good players, they’ve done it for a long time,” Kings head coach Jim Hiller said of the Oilers. “They’re executing at a high level. … But again, game’s over, their power play scored, ours didn’t. It’s 2-1. Let’s get ready for the next one.”

Game 4 of the best-of-seven matchup is set for Sunday night at Crypto.com arena. The series shifts back to Edmonton for Game 5 at Rogers Place.

The Oilers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes – dominating the shots 16-8 – and hardly looked back.

Hyman opened the scoring 6:42 into the first period, capitalizing on a juicy turnover from Doughty was picked off by Mattias Ekholm.

“It’s a great play by (Ekholm) there. Great read and obviously Hyman stuck with it, he’s the best in the league at that,” Draisaitl said. “The first goal is always big, but I really enjoyed how we followed it up.”

Edmonton doubled the lead at 15:36 when Draisaitl beat Talbot from a sharp angle after Kane’s feed. Kane drove behind the net before swinging a pass backward that ricocheted off the net and landed on Draisaitl’s tape.

McDavid then made it 3-0 on the power play at 18:34 for his 30th career playoff goal.

Doughty got the Kings on the board 5:32 into the second period by sneaking past Kane from the blue line and burying a cross-ice pass from Quinton Byfield into an open cage to give life to Crypto.com arena.

But L.A.’s pushback was short-lived. Kane responded 2:07 later with a deflection on Cody Ceci’s slap shot for his first of the playoffs.

“That was one that really sunk us at that point because we did have some momentum,” Hiller said.

Tempers flared in the third when Andreas Englund caught Kane with a high hit 6:19 into the period. A scrum ensued before Kane and Englund dropped the gloves for a fight.

“He just feeds off the intensity,” Draisaitl said. “He enjoys the physicality and he enjoys the simplicity in a way of playoff goals and he’s obviously really, really good at it.”

The Oilers jumped out to a 5-on-3 advantage for a full two minutes and Hyman tapped in a McDavid pass for his second of the night to make it 5-1 at 6:37.

The frustrated Kings started losing control and stacking up more penalties later in the period as officials started handing out 10-minute misconducts.

Hiller, however, had no issues with his players showing their emotions.

“I saw some players that were pissed off with the result, with where we were at in the game, and they didn’t go away quietly,” he said.

Fans threw objects onto the ice when Edmonton took another 5-on-3 advantage with 7:45 left. The Oilers’ power play produced yet another goal as Draisaitl converted his second of the night.

PLAYOFF DRAI

Draisaitl became the fastest player in NHL history to score his 20th career road goal in the playoffs, hitting the mark in 26 games. The German forward also reached 50 assists in the post-season in his 52nd game. Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and McDavid did it faster.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2024.

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