May 3 (UPI) — Phillip Danault deflected the puck into the net with his stick blade for a clutch third-period score to carry the Los Angeles Kings to a win over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup playoffs series Monday night.
Danault’s score came with just 5:14 remaining in the first-round 4-3 victory at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta. The veteran center also logged an assist for the third-seeded Kings.
“I think obviously no matter how it’s ending, if you have one more goal, that’s the best ending,” Danault told reporters, according to NHL.com. “We stuck with it. They came back in the game and they had a good power play.
“I think we showed the character again and we stuck with it and big win.”
Fellow Kings center Trevor Moore chipped in a score and two assists in the victory. All-Star center Connor McDavid logged a goal and an assist for the Oilers.
Moore first lit the lamp nine minutes into the game. Danault battled defenders behind the Oilers net to spark that score. He then found left wing Alex Iafallo, who sent a pass onto Moore between the circles.
Moore then roped a backhanded one-timer past Oilers net minder Mike Smith for first blood. Iafallo doubled the lead less than six minutes later.
McDavid cut the Oilers deficit in half when he beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with 43 seconds remaining in the first period.
Oilers right wing Kailer Yamamoto tied the score with a power play goal 2:39 into the second. Left wing Brendan Lemieux gave the lead back to the Kings when he beat Smith for a third time 71 seconds later.
But center Leon Draisaitl finished another Oilers power play with a score toward the end of the bridge frame. The score was tied 3-3 to start the third period.
Neither team found the net for the majority of the final frame. Danault netted the go-ahead score 14:46 into the third.
Smith went to recover a puck behind the net at the start of the play. He sent a pass toward the left circle. Iafallo intercepted the feed and fired a quick shot toward the net. Smith jumped in front of the net for a crucial save. The Oilers also denied an initial follow-up shot from Danault.
Moore then raced behind the net and cleared the puck back out to defenseman Sean Durzi, who hit a one-timer toward the net. Danault swiped his stick at the puck as it approached, deflecting it past Smith and into the net for the final score.
Smith totaled 31 saves in the loss. Quick made 36 saves for the Kings.
The Oilers host the Kings in Game 2 of the best-of-seven game series at 10 p.m. EDT Wednesday in Edmonton. The winner of the series will face the top-seeded Calgary Flames or wildcard Dallas Stars in the second round.
The Flames host the Stars in Game 1 of that series at 10 p.m. Tuesday at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta.