NHL

Frustrated Kings have no answer for high-scoring Oilers in Game 3 blowout loss

Frustrated Kings have no answer for high-scoring Oilers in Game 3 blowout loss

Kings forward Quinton Byfield gets into a scuffle with Edmonton Oilers defenseman Brett Kulak in the third period of the Kings’ 6-1 loss in Game 3 at Crypto.com Arena on Friday night. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles)

Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid were three of the most dangerous scorers during the NHL regular season, combining for 127 goals and 315 points for the Edmonton Oilers. Stopping one of them is a challenge, stopping all three is pretty much impossible.

The Kings certainly haven’t found a way to do it, with Hyman, Draisaitl and McDavid combining for five goals and three assists Friday in a 6-1 Oilers win in Game 3 of their Western Conference playoff series that gave Edmonton a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven matchup the trio have dominated.

The loss was just the fifth in the Kings’ last 19 games at Crypto.com Arena, but it might prove to be the most costly since it swung the momentum of the series back to Edmonton and neutralized home-ice advantage should the series go seven games.

Read more: For Kings (and Lakers and Clippers), home is where the playoff action is

The way Hyman, Draisaitl and McDavid have been playing, that seems unlikely.

“They’re good players. They've done it for a long time,” Kings interim coach Jim Hiller said. “They're executing pretty well. They're executing at a high level.”

Executing so well, Edmonton has outscored the Kings 17-10 in the series.

“It’s two for them, one for us. And you need to win four in the series,” Hiller said. “We’ll have to play better than we did tonight.”

The Edmonton trio has combined for 10 goals and 13 assists in the series. Three of the goals came in the first period Friday, burying the Kings in a hole they could never climb out of.

Hyman scored less than seven minutes into the game after a giveaway by defensemen Drew Doughty made it possible. After a faceoff, Edmonton’s Mattias Ekholm jumped on a lazy backhand pass from Doughty near the Kings’ blueline, then fed Hyman alone in the slot.

Edmonton Oilers players celebrate after a goal by Evander Kane (91) in the second period of a 6-1 win over the Kings in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Friday at Crypto.com Arena. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Oilers' forward took a couple of whacks at the puck, with Kings goalie Cam Talbot stopping both tries, before Hyman finally stuffed it inside the post on Talbot’s stick side for his league-leading fifth goal of the playoffs. He would get his sixth two periods later, giving him goals in all three games of the series.

Draisaitl doubled the lead late in the first period, gathering a pass that Evander Kane bounced off the side of the Kings’ net, then beating Talbot cleanly with a shot from a sharp angle near the bottom of the left circle for his 82nd career playoff point.

Three minutes later, McDavid scored on a power play, knocking in a rebound of his own shot for his first goal of these playoffs. Evan Bouchard picked up his fifth assist and Draisaitl his fourth on the play.

Doughty got the Kings on the board 5:32 into the second period, one-timing a cross pass from Quinton Byfield into the net. For Byfield, the assist was his third in two games, pushing his playoff point streak to five games. But Kane got the goal back for Edmonton two minutes later, deflecting in a shot by defenseman Cody Ceci from the blue line off his leg past Talbot.

Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, left, and Edmonton Oilers forward Warren Foegele chase after the puck in the second period Friday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles)

The game degenerated early in the third period with the Kings, who have been eliminated by Edmonton in the first round of the playoffs the last two seasons, showing their frustration. Three Kings players were sent off the ice: defenseman Andreas Englund for fighting and an illegal check to the head, captain Anze Kopitar for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct and leading scorer Adrian Kempe for roughing.

Three Oilers also went off after the skirmish, but the double penalites on Kopitar and Englund left Edmonton with a five-on-three advantage and Hyman needed less than 80 seconds to take advantage, scoring his sixth goal of the series to give Edmonton a 5-1 lead.

That was the second of three power-play goals — on seven opportunities — by the Oilers. The Kings were scoreless in five chances with the man advantage and have yet to produce a power-play goal in the series.

“I don't know how they had so many power plays, to be honest. The calls were …" Kings forward Kevin Fiala said before he was cut off by a team employee.

McDavid got his playoff-high seventh assist on Hyman’s second goal, but the Oilers’ Big Three weren’t done, with Draisaitl tacking on another power-play goal at 12:38. McDavid got an assist on that one as well.

The one-sided score line could be a bad omen for the Kings, who were routed 8-2 by the Oilers in Game 3 in Los Angeles two years ago and went on to lose the series in seven games.

The challenge for the Kings is to slow the Oilers’ offense enough to get back in the series.

“They're not impossible to stop. We stopped them last game,” Fiala said. “Obviously they're very good players. But we have to do a better job.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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