May 25th, 2024

Skinner posts shutout, Oilers down Kings 1-0 to take 3-1 series lead

By Daniel Rainbird, The Canadian Press on April 28, 2024.

Los Angeles Kings goalie David Rittich will start in net against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series Sunday. Rittich, left, deflects a shot by Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras during the first period of an NHL hockey game, in Los Angeles, Saturday, April 13, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark J. Terrill

LOS ANGELES – Stuart Skinner made 33 saves for his first post-season shutout, and the Edmonton Oilers edged the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 on Sunday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.

Evan Bouchard scored the only goal of the game for Edmonton, which won 6-1 in Game 3 on Friday.

David Rittich made 13 saves in his first start of the post-season for Los Angeles.

Rittich took over the crease from Cam Talbot, who has a .861 save percentage and a 5.30 goals-against average this post-season.

The Oilers can win the best-of-seven matchup in Game 5 at home Wednesday. Game 6, if necessary, would take place next Friday back at Crypto.com.

Edmonton’s unstoppable power play went 1-for-1 on the night to improve to 8-for-15 in the series. Los Angeles went 0-for-1 and hasn’t scored in 11 opportunities during these playoffs.

Bouchard wound up from the point and blasted a one-timer past Rittich at 11:49 of the second period after Andreas Englund went to the box for a holding penalty. Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid earned assists on the play.

With Edmonton leading 1-0, Skinner turned away chances from Alex Laferriere and Mikey Anderson early in the third period to keep the Oilers ahead.

Skinner stood tall again midway through the period, denying a chance from Trevor Moore below the faceoff dot. Los Angeles then failed to gain momentum on their only power play of the night.

The Kings pulled their goalie with under two minutes left in the game but once again couldn’t generate many opportunities against the Oilers, who kept them to the outside all night.

Desperate not to go down 3-1, the Kings drove play in the first period and threw their weight at every opportunity to give the rowdy home fans – including actor Will Ferrell – more energy. Drew Doughty laid out Zach Hyman along the boards for one of several Kings hits through 20 minutes.

Los Angeles also smothered the neutral zone with their 1-3-1 system and limited Edmonton’s high-flying offence to just four shots in the frame.

Rittich looked sharp during the Oilers’ limited opportunities, turning away two shots from Draisaitl.

Edmonton’s best opportunity came with under a minute left in the period when McDavid fed Brett Kulak with a backdoor pass. Kulak, however, couldn’t get a shot off.

L.A.’s tight-checking play continued into the second, but the Oilers struck first thanks to Bouchard and their red-hot power play.

The Kings outshot the Oilers 21-10 after 40 minutes but didn’t test Skinner with many Grade A chances as the Oilers limited them to shots from the perimeter.

200 FOR PERRY

Oilers forward Corey Perry became the 24th player in NHL history to skate in 200 playoff games. Perry has 53 goals and 71 assists in the post-season. The 38-year-old won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007 and reached the final in 2020 (Dallas), 2021 (Montreal) and 2022 (Tampa Bay).

DUBOIS DEMOTION

Los Angeles centre Pierre-Luc Dubois skated on the Kings’ fourth line Sunday. Signed to an eight-year, US$68-million contract last off-season, Dubois has one assist in these playoffs after an underwhelming 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games during the regular season.

ADDING DEPTH

The Oilers added reinforcements to their roster earlier Sunday. Edmonton recalled goaltender Jack Campbell and defenceman Philip Broberg from the Bakersfield Condors after they were eliminated from the American Hockey League playoffs.

Campbell, who has a US$5-million salary through 2026-27, was placed on waivers by the Oilers on Nov. 7 after he struggled to a 1-4-0 record to start the season. Broberg had two assists in 12 NHL games this season.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2024.

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