Oilers answer Kings to send series to Game 7

LOS ANGELES — The Kings spent 80 of 82 regular-season games walking along the razor’s edge, constantly competing in one-goal games in the process, so it seems fitting that they are headed for a do-or-die situation on Saturday in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.

Their hosts will be the Edmonton Oilers, who forced a winner-take-all game with a 4-2 victory on Thursday night at Crypto.com Arena.

Three of the four Game 6s played in the NHL on Thursday sent their combatants to a Game 7, with only St. Louis successfully finishing off Minnesota.

Defenseman Sean Durzi and winger Carl Grundstrom scored goals for the Kings, who erased a two-goal deficit and were looking to wrap up their first series since defeating the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. Jonathan Quick made 33 saves in defeat.

The Oilers’ Evander Kane had two goals, including an empty-netter, and an assist, to move into a tie for the postseason lead with seven goals. Center Connor McDavid notched a goal and two assists. Cody Ceci had two assists and another defenseman, Tyson Barrie, netted the game-winning goal. Mike Smith stopped 30 shots.

Kane, who was signed midseason after having his contract terminated by the Sharks, sealed the Kings’ fate with a minute remaining by scoring an empty-net goal. The Kings had failed to convert on a power play and then received a reprieve when winger Josh Archibald missed a clean look at the vacated cage, only to cede a second goal to Kane.

Earlier, with traffic in front and Edmonton defenseman Evan Bouchard advancing into the low slot, center Phillip Danault came up with a diving, sweeping stick check to break up the play halfway through the final frame, preserving a tie.

The relief Danault provided proved fleeting, as with 5:10 to play the Kings found themselves down by a goal. Edmonton’s marquee players McDavid and Leon Draisaitl hit the offensive zone with speed, but it was a lower-profile Oiler, Barrie, who trailed the play, sized up a shot and picked his spot.

The trend of early-period goals persisted in the third, but this time it was the Kings striking with an equalizer just 29 seconds after the intermission. Mikey Anderson’s D-to-D dish for Matt Roy set up a pass down low for Grundstrom, who popped a short-side shot past Smith to knot the score. Grundstrom has four points in three games since missing Game 3 with an injury.

With approximately seven minutes left in the second period, the Kings produced a Herculean even-strength shift that drew a penalty on center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. On the resulting power play, Durzi set up at the top of the umbrella and connected on a blast from the blue line that halved the Kings’ deficit.

The second period had started just like the first, with an Edmonton goal less than two minutes into it.

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After defenseman Troy Stecher and Quick combined to shut down a two-on-one rush, the Oilers stayed in the offensive zone and regrouped. Defenseman Brett Kulak’s shot was redirected past Quick by Kane, who nearly scored again shortly thereafter, but his goal was waved off for goalie interference.

Eight minutes into the first period, Quick stood on his head during one sequence and a moment later found himself making a save as he was being run over by winger Kailer Yamamoto. Quick not only neutralized multiple threats from the Oilers, but he drew a penalty that sent the Kings to a fruitless power play.

Just 1:40 into the game, McDavid drove hard through traffic and pushed a wraparound goal between Quick’s legs to give the Oilers Game 6’s first lead.

More to come on this story.