“Smitty was great tonight,” Oilers winger Evander Kane said of his team’s netminder after the game.
“Personally, I didn’t expect anything less from him — he’s so mentally tough.”
“We have all the confidence in the world in Smitty and he had a bounce-back game like no other,” Oilers forward Derek Ryan added.
The best-of-seven playoff series is now tied 1-1.
”We were patient. We didn’t try to force anything. We just waited for opportunities to open up, and when they came, we made the most of them,” Edmonton defenceman Darnell Nurse said.
“That’s a good team we’re playing over there in L.A. that doesn’t give up much, so when the opportunities arise, we have to make the most of them.”
The Oilers found themselves shorthanded twice in the first period on penalties to Connor McDavid and Duncan Keith. Alex Iafallo had the Kings’ best chance, kissing a backhand off the post.
“We played a strong first period and had two big penalty kills. I thought that settled everything down,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said after the game.
In the first minute of the second, Kings forward Andreas Athanasiou went to the box for committing goalie interference on Smith. On the ensuing power play, Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl ripped a one-timer past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
“Leon scored the game-winning goal when the game was in the balance, and you talk about a heck of a shot — holy cow — he threaded that through a needle,” Woodcroft exclaimed after the game.
Nurse made it 2-0 while shorthanded when his wrister ticked off Los Angeles forward Arthur Kaliyev.
Late in the second, Oilers forward Ryan McLeod deflected Evan Bouchard’s point shot to make it 3-0. It was the first career playoff goals for Nurse and McLeod.
“Bouch has been a guy that’s gotten better and better over the last couple of months,” Smith said. “He’s poised with the puck and he makes good plays.
“If he keeps it simple, he can make some unbelievable plays, and he’s got a bomb of a shot.”
”It’s one game. There’s still a lot of hockey left to be played in this series, but it’s a game we can build on,” Nurse said. “Now we get to L.A. and reset and get ready for the next one.”
Three minutes into the third, Kane nudged the puck into the Kings zone. It flipped up in the air and Kings defenceman Sean Durzi tried to swat it to the corner but instead it wound up in his own net.
Only 21 seconds later, McDavid set up Jesse Puljujarvi to make it 5-0.
”I think he had a full 200-foot game tonight,” Woodcroft said of Puljujarvi. “I’m happy for him that he scored that goal and finished off that great feed from Connor for his own personal confidence, but I thought he played a really good game.
“That line was dangerous every time they were on the ice.”
Kane added a power-play goal.
Game 3 is Friday in Los Angeles. You can listen to the game live on 630 CHED beginning with The Faceoff Show at 6 p.m. The actual game starts at 8 p.m.
–With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED