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Oilers look to get back on the attack with chance to eliminate Kings in Game 5

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EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have made the case they can rely on their defending to win games.

That doesn’t mean it’s their preferred way of getting the job done.

Edmonton leads the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 in their first-round series after a defensively sound 1-0 victory in Game 4. But the Kings suffocated the Oilers' offence and limited a team with some of the league's top stars to a paltry 13 shots.

With a chance to advance to the second round Wednesday night at Rogers Place, the Oilers hope to revive the dynamic offence they're known for.

“We want to attack a little more,” forward Leon Draisaitl said Tuesday. “That’s our game.

“There's nothing wrong with the way (Game 4) went, but we got to get on our toes a little bit more and attack a little bit more and present them a little bit more of a challenge.”

It's an understatement to say the Oilers are loaded with offensive talent. Captain Connor McDavid, a five-time top scorer in the league, leads the playoffs with 10 points through four games. Draisaitl isn’t far behind with eight, and gritty winger Zach Hyman is tied for the post-season lead in goals with six.

Edmonton filled the net with seven goals in Game 1 and six in Game 3, both wins. In Game 2, they scored four times in an overtime loss.

Game 4, where Los Angeles outshot Edmonton 33-13, was an anomaly for the team that’s so used to dominating the play.

“You have to be comfortable in those situations,” defenceman Darnell Nurse said. “With that said, I think we probably want to get more back to our speed and dictating a little more of the play, not having to defend too much.”

Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch doesn’t want to make a habit of leaning on the team's defending even though Edmonton limited the Kings' quality chances.

"The shot totals in their favour was by far the most lopsided that I've seen here but for Grade A scoring chances that was one of the lower-end,” Knobaluch said. “But they did a great job defending too and limited our opportunities, so I'd like to spend some more time in the offensive zone.

“If we can break the puck out and make better passes, we won't have to defend as much as we did the other night."

Meanwhile, the Kings are running back the same game plan despite not pulling out the win in Game 4.

“There’s always things you don’t like (in a game). There wasn’t many in that one,” interim Kings head coach Jim Hiller told reporters. “You always say you want perfection, we didn’t get perfection but we played as well as we have in a long, long time.

“In our minds, we should be even.”

Unlike the Oilers, the Kings’ stars aren’t filling the stat sheet through four contests. Adrian Kempe and Quinton Byfield lead the team with four points, while big-money signings Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kevin Fiala have just one goal each.

Hiller has repeated that special teams have made the difference in the series. Edmonton is 8-for-15 with the man-advantage and Los Angeles is scoreless in 11 power plays.

Hiller, however, won't make changes to his personnel to get his unit going.

“It’s been four games. You can look at a lot of stretches during the season when you go four games and your power play doesn’t score,” he said. “It’s magnified now because it’s the playoffs, for sure.

“We've got to get feeling it soon, but we’re not going to worry about it.”

The Oilers expect the Kings to come out desperate with their season on the line.

“They had a push there on home ice in Game 4, and they're going to have a really good push here tomorrow night,” Nurse said. “It's going to be important that we come out and we get on the front leg and try to dictate the play."

PIANO MAN

Defenceman Cody Ceci spends a lot of time on the ice — he’s playing 21:04 a game in ice-time these playoffs. When he’s away from the rink, he likes to tickle the ivories.

Ceci’s grandmother taught him to play the piano and he took lessons growing up before taking a break as he rose through the minor and junior hockey ranks. As a professional since 2013, he picked it back up and plays daily when he’s not on the road.

"It's harder now with a daughter at home, I can't play it too late at night or else I'll wake her up,” said Ceci, who enjoys playing everything from classical music to rock.

The 30-year-old from Ottawa has played for four teams and stacked up three pianos in his journey through the NHL.

“They’re hard to move,” he said. “One at my cottage, got one at a friend's place in Ottawa, and then I got one here. I gotta cut down.

"I wasn't moving a piano to Edmonton, that's for sure. So I ended up getting one here, but the store said that they'll sell it for me when I'm done."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2024.