4 Takeaways From Oilers’ 4-0 Game 4 Loss to the Kings

The Edmonton Oilers are now tied 2-2 in their best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series after being shut out 4-0 by the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday (May 8).

After two dominating victories in Games 2 and 3, in which Edmonton out-scored the Kings by a combined score of 14-2, the Oilers came out flat in Game 4 and were completely overwhelmed by a Kings team that played with far more urgency than its visiting rivals.

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Trevor Moore and Troy Stecher each had a goal to give the Kings a 2-0 lead in the first period, and winger Carl Grundstrom scored twice in the final five minutes of the game. Veteran netminder Jonathan Quick also made 31 saves for his 10th career postseason shutout.

To be blunt, there wasn’t a lot to like in the Oilers’ performance on Sunday. Here are five takeaways from their Game 4 loss in the City of Angels.

Oilers Didn’t Match the Kings’ Effort

On Sunday, the Oilers looked like a team whose skaters were feeling a bit too good about themselves after posting two of their biggest postseason wins in franchise history and knew that no matter what happened in Game 4, they were headed back to Rogers Place with at worst split in the series, holding home advantage.

The Kings, meanwhile, looked like a team whose players knew they had to be much, much better after suffering two blowout losses, otherwise, they would be going back to Edmonton down 3-1 and facing elimination, which meant Sunday could be their last home game of 2021-22.

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Channeling that desperation, the Kings outshot Edmonton 20-10 in the first period, peppering goalie Mike Smith, who was the only Oiler that showed up ready to play when the puck dropped just after 7 PM local time Sunday night.

After Moore scored the game’s opening goal at 8:03 of the first period, the Kings were in control. But while they held a lead of at least two goals for more than three-quarters of the game, they never took their foot off the gas. That’s in stark contrast to the Oilers, who lacked the same intensity that propelled them to victories of 6-0 in Game 2 and 8-2 in Game 3.

Oilers Fall Behind Early

In both of their losses in this series, Edmonton has trailed 2-0 in the first period. But there was a difference on Sunday compared to Game 1 at Rogers Place last Monday (May 2), which saw Edmonton give up the game’s first two goals before ultimately losing 4-3.

In the series-opener, the Oilers just seemed more overwhelmed by the beginning of the playoffs in front of a raucous crowd for the first time since 2017. Once they got their feet under them, they played a terrific game, and may have won were it not for a disastrous giveaway by Smith that resulted in Phillip Danault burying the game-winner for the Kings late in the third period.

Related: 3 Takeaways From Oilers’ 4-3 Game 1 Loss to the Kings

Sunday was not a matter of lacking composure. After 120 minutes of utter dominance over Games 2 and 3, the Oilers had established themselves as the alpha in the series and had every reason to feel confident. Too confident, apparently, as an effort equal to that of their opponent is the main reason the Oilers were so thoroughly outclassed in Game 4.

Kings Dominate in Shots and Faceoffs

The Kings carried the bulk of play on Sunday, as evidenced by outshooting the Oilers 46-31. This was the second consecutive outing with 46 shots, who are averaging just a shade under 40 per game for the series, while Edmonton has yet to record at least 40 shots in any of the first four games.

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Also of note is that the winning team in all four games of the series has held the edge in the faceoff circle, none more lopsided than Game 4, which saw the Kings win 55.9 percent of draws.

Controversial Kings’ Goal Wasn’t the Difference

Any hope of an Oilers rally was snuffed out when Grundstrom gave the Kings a three-goal lead with 4:54 remaining, however, the goal was not without controversy as the Kings forward collided with Smith on the play.

The goal was upheld following two reviews: the first was initiated by the NHL when they looked at whether the puck entered the goal legally and wasn’t pushed in by Grundstrom’s glove. The second came after Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft challenged for goaltender interference.

Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The NHL released a statement following the game, stating that contact initiated by Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse “caused Grundstrom to contact Smith,” thus meaning the Kings winger was not guilty of goaltender interference.

While questioning the legality of the goal is fair, hanging Edmonton’s loss on the officiating is not. The Oilers weren’t coming back whether that goal counted or not. They lost this game with their play in the preceding 55:06 before Grundstrom made it 3-0.

Oilers Must Respond in Game 5

The Oilers had a chance to grab this series by the throat by Sunday and didn’t capitalize. Moreover, this was the moment for them to turn the corner in the Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl era. Teams that make deep postseason runs win these pivotal games. The Oilers haven’t made a deep postseason run with this current group because they haven’t been able to win them.

Their next chance to do so is in Game 5 on Tuesday, back at Rogers Place. More than 18,000 fans will be there in what is sure to be an electric atmosphere. Can the Oilers bring the same level of energy as the Kings brought in Game 4?

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