4 keys to the Kings defeating the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6

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EL SEGUNDO –– The mood was light and the vibe was positive at Kings practice Friday, but an undercurrent of seriousness signaled the obvious: The team is facing elimination in Saturday’s Game 6.

“This is a huge game for us and we want to make some good things happen,” Kings center Phillip Danault said.

“I think it’s even more fun with your back against the wall,” he added.

Unlike in recent years, the Kings have serious skin in the game, with concrete expectations after last year’s playoff berth and first-round loss in seven games to these same Edmonton Oilers gave way to significant investments in trades before the season and during the campaign.

Last season, the Kings hosted Game 6 with a chance to close out the series, whereas this year they’ll be playing with their professional lives on the line.

“There’s pressure both ways,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We needed to play our best game of the series last year when we were up, and we need to play our best games of the series this year when we’re down.”

Here are four keys to living to fight another day, specifically Monday in Edmonton, where Game 7 would unfold if it were needed.


This season, Edmonton conjured images of past dynasties, albeit not always their own, with a power play that could give Maurice Richard and company from Montreal a run for their money and a one-two punch unseen since the days of Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh. Edmonton’s historically potent power play, led by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the top two scorers in the NHL, has converted on 57.1% of its opportunities in the series, a figure that may have been as incomprehensible as it was unsustainable.

In Game 5, the Oilers struck twice a man up, both in the final 10 seconds of a penalty, once off a post and once off winger Zach Hyman’s face. During the regular season, the Kings mustered considerable success against Edmonton’s power play, stifling them across three meetings and almost all of a fourth.

“They scored in the last two seconds or five seconds, off the face of somebody,” Danault said. “They’re obviously really, really good players, but we can kill for sure, we need more confidence. We know we can do it, we did it all year, and at key times as well.”

The Kings registered as many or more special-teams goals as Edmonton in their two victories, but were outscored on special teams in all three losses. In Game 5, Edmonton won that battle 2-0, producing the first decisive result for either side in the series so far.

“We don’t expect to be perfect, and I don’t think anybody does against their power play. If they score three on the power play, they’re probably winning,” McLellan said.

“You don’t want to take the penalties, and when you do get the opportunities, you’ve got to kill,” he added.


Between last year’s series going the distance and the divisional schedule, Game 6 will mark meeting No. 21 between these two teams since the start of the 2021-22 season. There won’t be much in the way of unrecognized tactics or secret weapons, but the Kings will all but certainly get center Blake Lizotte back, restoring balance to their lines and emotion to their hearts.

“We’ve played each other the most out of any two teams in the league over the last two years. There’s no secrets, there’s no love lost between the two,” Lizotte said. “Both teams like the energy level where it’s at and that rivalry, so I think it’s going to be a passionate game.”

Lizotte brings more than just intangibles, as he slots the Kings’ bottom six into appropriate roles, competes at a high level defensively to create havoc and drives the forecheck to help generate possession.

The unusual schedule that saw three full days pass between Games 5 and 6 could have benefitted the Kings as well. They had a .763 points percentage this season in games that followed two or more days off, which would have been the second best in the NHL had they carried it across a full schedule.

“We set it up so that we got some rest (Wednesday), that we worked on a few things and had a little bit of a grind (Thursday) and, today, we had some pace,” McLellan said Friday. “We are where we need to be as far as prep, we just need to go perform now.


In a series where McDavid and Draisaitl have already combined for 18 points, the Kings seem unlikely to take the tag-team title belt away from Edmonton. With Hyman and Evander Kane coming to life by scoring a goal apiece in each of the past two games – both Edmonton victories – scoring by committee will be all the more important.

Lizotte’s return will move Gabe Vilardi back to the wing, which could work wonders for the natural goal-scorer. The Kings also hope Quinton Byfield’s goal in Game 5 becomes a springboard for the young pivot, even though they’ve been satisfied with his game in the series.

McLellan praised the tenacity and willingness to battle from Byfield, who has three points in five games this postseason after playing a limited role in just two games last year and also planted McDavid into the ice in Game 4.

The 20-year-old said he hoped to make an incremental, multi-faceted impact on the series.

“That’s playoff hockey. There’s going to be a lot of dirty goals. You’ve got to wear down the other team as well,” Byfield said. “As much as I can finish their top guys, who are playing over 20 minutes a night, those hits are going to wear them down.”


Byfield is one of several players not yet legally able to rent a car who has played an important role for the Kings, along with Vilardi and top-pairing defenseman Mikey Anderson, among others. While Anderson’s partner, Drew Doughty, and team captain Anze Kopitar, provide the very definition of battle-tested after winning two Stanley Cups, the Kings have also received strong stewardship from their newest alternate captain, Danault.

Danault’s locker is beside Byfield’s at the Kings’ practice facility, and the two often play cards and hang out on off days, Byfield said, in addition to exchanging the fineries of faceoffs and nuances of negating an opponent’s stick. The two also enjoyed a lengthy on-ice chat, complete with a bit of instruction, during practice Friday.

McLellan said Danault was “as good as they come” in terms of acting as a liaison between coaching staff and players, comparing him in that sense to legends he coached in prior stops like Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom and San Jose’s Joe Thornton.

“He cares about his teammates and others. He takes the message and spreads it appropriately,” McLellan said. “He can clean up some of our messes as coaches sometimes by encouraging people, but he can also poke people, and then he backs it up with his game.”


When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

Where: Crypto.com Arena

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West (local); TBS (national)/iHeart Radio