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Adrian Kempe, Kings edge Oilers in OT for 3-2 series lead

Silver, black, just-win attitudes and a commitment to excellence once symbolized the NFL’s Raiders in Southern California, but in the past decade, those colors and qualities have been embodied by the NHL’s Kings.

Eight years removed from winning two Stanley Cup championships in three seasons, the Kings moved within one victory of their first playoff series win since 2014 by defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 5-4, in overtime on Tuesday night at Rogers Place.

Winger Adrian Kempe scored his second goal of the night just 72 seconds into overtime as he burst up the right wing wall, protected the puck and drove hard to the net for a sweep-in goal that ended the game and sent the series back to Los Angeles with the Kings in position to end it on Thursday night at Arena.

“He’s become a big-time player for us. He’s led us in goals this season, he’s got really good legs, he’s got a physical element to his game,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “And if there was a player I could pick coming down the wing with any type of speed taking it to the net … it would be Adrian.”

Right before the goal, the Kings’ second line neutralized Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who had combined for six points in regulation, allowing themselves to hand off momentum to the first line for its shift.

“(The second line) came out right away and set the tone,” Kempe said. “Then we caught them when they were tired and finished it off.”

Goalie Jonathan Quick made key stops in the waning moments of regulation and got help from the goalpost as part of a 24-save night in his 90th consecutive postseason start, the fourth-longest streak in NHL history. Defenseman Troy Stecher had a goal and an assist. He and Kempe joined center Phillip Danault and winger Andreas Athanasiou as the goal-scorers for the Kings.

Draisaitl had two goals and an assist. He skated more frequently with McDavid, who picked up a goal and two assists, including one on winger Zack Kassian’s tally. Mike Smith stopped 31 shots.

The two sides went toe to toe on special teams in the third period, and, predictably, Edmonton came out ahead, though the Kings would enjoy the final chuckle.

“At the end, we were up by two and they found a way, they’re a good team and obviously they have a really good power play,” Danault said. “But other than that, we came back, we stuck with our system, we believed in ourselves and here we are, 3-2.”

With 4:52 left in regulation, during an Edmonton power play, McDavid sent a seam pass to Draisaitl for a one-timer that knotted the score at 4-4.

Just 2:35 earlier, Draisatil scored shorthanded after McDavid’s centering pass was deflected to him trailing the play for a goal that reduced the Kings’ lead to one. With that, the Kings had allowed as many goals shorthanded in the series (two) as they’d scored on the power play.

However, the Kings had cast aside their struggles on the power play at a key moment. An ephemeral five-on-three gave way to an extended double-minor opportunity, and the Kings cashed in on the first of those two two-minute penalties.

Kempe added an assist on the play when he skated into the right faceoff circle to drop a decisive pass down to Danault, who redirected the puck, surprising Smith as it dribbled through him for an insurance goal with 8:54 to play.

Early in the third period, Edmonton had closed to within one when McDavid’s first power-play shot of the series became his first power-play goal. A scrambled draw left a loose puck in front of Quick before McDavid pounced, dashed through the slot and lifted a backhand shot past Quick.

Prior to its three special-teams tallies, Edmonton mustered little in the way of consistency, much as it had Sunday when it was shut out, 4-0.

On Sunday, there were no Edmonton goals but there was plenty of chippiness and Tuesday’s meeting was roughly as spicy. Edmonton out-hit the Kings 20-9 in the first 20 minutes and there was a scuffle right off the opening faceoff in the second.

Yet Edmonton seemed preoccupied with the physical game and made headway in very few other areas. After out-scoring the Kings 8-3 in the second periods of the first three games, the Kings got the better of the middle frame on Tuesday.

With 6:26 showing on the second-period clock, they earned some separation thanks to the hustle and touch of Athanasiou, who drew in for Gabe Vilardi on Tuesday. First, he beat out an icing call, challenging Edmonton defenseman Brett Kulak behind the Edmonton goal. Kulak coughed up the puck to winger Dustin Brown, who found Athanasiou at the side of the net for a goal.

Athanasiou struggled defensively in Game 3 and did not play in Game 4 –he was likely a healthy scratch, though McLellan refused to confirm that – but he returned to the lineup with a tangible contribution. That was novel neither for the Kings, whose lineup adjustments paid dividends in Game 4 as well, nor Athanasiou, who notched six points in the five games in which he returned from a scratch of any kind during the regular season.

“I kind of just get back in and try to help the team out as much as possible, and I’m fortunate that it’s worked out a couple times this year,” Athanasiou told broadcaster Jim Fox.

Kempe had given the Kings their second lead of the night with his first career playoff goal as the match approached its midpoint. After top centers McDavid and Anze Kopitar traded chances, Kopitar hit the offensive zone with momentum before dishing to Kempe. The pass lagged slightly behind him, but that turned out to be fortuitous. In reaching back for the puck, Kempe changed and disguised his shooting angle, deceiving Smith effectively albeit unintentionally.

For all the Kings’ early success, their one-goal lead proved fragile 2:32 into the second period. A shot attempt hit winger Carl Grundstrom in front and came to McDavid. Quick expertly waited him out and dove desperately to take away the near side, forcing McDavid behind the net. But there he made a pass to Kassian for a tap-in at the opposite post that narrowly eluded defenceman Mikey Anderson.

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