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By Steven Lieberman
Observer Reporter 

Kings Face Elimination in Stanley Cup Playoffs

 

Jenn G, Wikimedia Commons - Wikipedia

IIn Game 4, of the First Round of the Western Conference Stanley Cup playoffs between the L.A. Kings and Edmonton Oilers at Crypto.com Arena, the highlight was the outstanding goaltending of Oilers netminder Stuart Skinner. The Oilers dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl typically get all the attention, but it was Skinner's night.

Skinner saved all 33 shots, giving the Oilers a 1-0 shoutout and a 3-1 lead in the seven game series heading back to Edmonton on Wednesday where the Oilers can shut the door with a victory in Game 5. This shutout was Skinner's first in the postseason, and a timely one, putting the Kings on the brink of elimination.

The Kings played their best during a losing cause, only allowing the Oilers 13 shots-on-goal. The one Oilers goal was scored on a second-period power play by Evan Bouchard. But Kings goalie David Rittich, who started in goal replacing Cam Talbot who allowed 17 goals in the first three games of the series, also played brilliantly.

After the game, Skinner spoke about his great defenders in front of the net - "I don't know how many blocked shots we had, but the guys were grinding for me, getting to every single puck and when we were hemmed in in the D zone we were able to win some battles. I think we just really played a man's game out there and I'm really proud of the group." Skinner seemed cool as a cucumber all night while the pressure was being applied by the Kings. He showed that he has the skills to win an important game.

"He's taken steps as a goaltender, he's way calmer," said Oilers defensemen Mattias Ekholm. "And positionally he's very sound. You have to really make a great play to beat him which is a great feeling for us knowing that he's the backbone of our team."

Power plays have been a key variable in this series so far. Even-strength, it's a stalemate. But the Oilers have the advantage with their special teams, scoring eight times on the power play while the Kings having been unsuccessful on all ten of theirs through the first three games.

The Kings outplayed the Oilers the entire game but just couldn't convert that one goal needed, thanks to Skinner's greatness.

"It's frustrating. Probably disappointing is a really good word," said Kings interim coach Jim Hiller speaking about the best game the Kings played so far in this series. "We haven't played this kind of game. This is the game we've got to take with us to Edmonton now. It's the only choice we have."

 

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