“You know we beat them in a long series last year too,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said after the game.
“We’re comfortable playing in these games. We’ve said that, I think we’ve showed that. They’re a good team. They’re stingy. They’re better offensively than I think people give them credit for. They’ve got some elite players and some really solid defencemen. So, they’re a good team and it’s a credit to us to get the job done here.”
The Oilers won the series 4-2. They’ll play the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round.
The Oilers took an early lead when Evan Bouchard made a deft pass in front to Connor McDavid, who tipped his third of the series past Joonas Korpisalo 1:25 into the game.
Sean Durzi tied it when his point shot skittered under Stuart Skinner’s left pad.
Klim Kostin notched his second of the series later in the first, cutting across the slot and snapping a shot past Korpisalo’s blocker.
The teams combined for three powerplay goals in the first nine minutes of the second period. Leon Draisaitl made it 3-1 Oilers with his patented right-side one-timer.
The Kings replied with snipes from Adrian Kempe and Kevin Fiala.
With 9:06 left in the second, Kostin found a loose puck in front and popped home his second of the evening to make it 4-3 Oilers.
The Kings tied it while shorthanded with 12:14 to go in the third.
Skinner fanned on a pass, allowing Phillip Danault to bag a freebie.
“We have an understanding that it’s not always going to be smooth sailing,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said after game when asked about the tying goal.
“You know it’s okay. It’s okay that there’s some drama in the story. If you look at this series as a whole, we were 20 seconds away from winning game number one, we were short handed, we gave one up — that was a game we thought we could win. We didn’t let it beat us, we came out in game number two and won game number two.
“We come down to L.A. and play a hard road game in game number three, a game where we felt there was some adversity; you know, obviously, there was the none-call of the stick in overtime. I really liked how our team responded to that one. We were down by three goals in game number four, we responded.
“Tonight’s game I thought we controlled the first period. The other team found a way to score a couple on the powerplay, we responded right again to get the lead. You go into the third period and then the goaltender’s stick breaks and you give up a shorthanded goal — the arena’s rocking and for us to find a way to get the win I thought was important. This is one of the best defensive teams in the league that pushes you in certain ways. I was proud of our team. I was proud of how our team altered our game in order to beat this team, in order to meet this challenge that’s immediately before us. And as I said at the start, the L.A. Kings are a worthy, formidable tough out. I thought it was a heck of a series.”
Kailer Yamamoto provided the game-winner with 3:03 left in the third, when his long wrister found the top corner on Korpisalo’s blocker side. It was his first goal of the series.
“I played with Klim the whole game,” Yamamoto said when asked about the goal. “You know, he was firing on all cylinders tonight. He had two tonight, so I knew once we were buzzing around in the O-Zone something good was going to happen. You had a great net front, I think there was like two or three bodies there, but I just shot it and thankfully it went in.”
Skinner finished with 40 saves as the Oilers were outshot 44-26. Kostin had two goals and an assist.
Last year, the Oilers went the full seven games to beat the Kings in last year’s first round en route to the Western Conference final.
Edmonton was swept in four straight in that final by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
— With files from The Canadian Press