After 20 minutes of Game 1, the Kings were down 2-0 in the opening round series vs. the Edmonton Oilers. Rather than open things up offensively, they chose to play their game; a tight, close to the vest affair. They seemed to find their sea legs in the second period, yet still found themselves trailing by the same score after 40 minutes. Eventually, Adrian Kempe — the player who followed up a breakout season one year ago with an even better campaign in 2022-23 — came through once again. He cut LA’s deficit to 2-1 in the opening minute of the third period and that was just what his team needed to build some confidence.
Despite Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl scoring his second of the game to give the Oilers their two-goal cushion back about seven minutes later, the Kings didn’t fold. Kempe answered with his second of the night with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation. After going 0-for-4 on the power play previously in the game, Anze Kopitar scored after Evan Bouchard took a high-sticking penalty in the dying minutes of regulation.
Viktor Arvidsson played an inspired game, blocking shots at will and forcing himself into plays. Linemate Phil Danault reminded everybody why he was the Kings MVP just one season ago. He played solid hockey at both ends of the ice, including being assigned the primary defender of Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid.
At 9:19 of overtime, it was No. 19 who came through for LA. Alex Iafallo buried a pass from Arvidsson to give the Kings a comeback victory, earning a 1-0 series lead in the process.
Joonas Korpisalo stopped 37-of-40 shots for his first career playoff win with the Kings.
Video highlights via Sportsnet/ESPN:
Todd McLellan postgame thoughts:
Additional notes and stats:
— Adrian Kempe recorded his second multi-goal playoff game of his career (matching his two-goal game on May 10, 2022 in Edmonton). Kempe’s two-goal game is his 11th since the start of the 2022-23 regular-season, which trails only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (14). The last Kings skater to have a multi-goal game in a playoff series opener was Ziggy Palffy (2-0=2 in Game 1 of 2002 CQF).
— Anze Kopitar tallied his 23rd career playoff goal and three assists (49th, 50th and 51st career playoff assists) for his first career four-point playoff game. He surpassed Justin Williams (23) for sole possession of the fourth-most playoff goals in franchise history, while his assists move him past Luc Robitaille (48) for the second-most (51). Per NHL PR, Kopitar scored the fourth latest playoff game-tying goal in Kings franchise history (59:43), trailing only Steve Bozek (59:55; Game 3 of 1982 DSF vs. EDM), Marian Gaborik (59:53; Game 1 of 2014 R2 at ANA) and Mike Richards (59:50; Game 5 of 2013 CF at CHI).
With all the talk about Fiala this year (and deservedly so), the solid play of Danault was somewhat forgotten about.
Go back to the end of last season. When asked about the possibility of REGRESSION, he said it's about PROGRESSION.
Had career high 54 pts + world class defense. https://t.co/Y4EosiY2X0
— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) April 18, 2023
— With tonight’s game, Kopitar and Drew Doughty have officially skated in their eighth postseason, tying Marcel Dionne and Dustin Brown for the fourth-most Stanley Cup Playoffs appearances in franchise history. Only Dave Taylor (13), Luc Robitaille (10) and Mike Murphy (9) have more postseason appearances in Kings history.
SERIES PREVIEW: LA Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers, 2023 Revenge Tour Begins Monday
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