Edmonton Oilers, Skinner shutout LA Kings 1-0, take 3-1 series lead

Apr 18, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) before the game
Apr 18, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) before the game / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings came into crypto.com arena for game four against the Edmonton OIlers with one goal in mind. Win this game and get back in the series. While they did play better, they are now one game from elimination.

The Oilers and goaltender Stuart Skinner shutout the Kings in game four, 1-0, and are one win away from moving on to round two This was Skinner's first playoff shutout and it gave Edmonton in a situation where they only need one more win to advance. They have a chance to close out the series at home on Wednesday night. Defenseman Evan Bouchard scored the only goal of the game on assists from Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid mid-way through the second period.

Oilers shutdown Kings in goaltender battle

Kings are out of answers

As this series went along, Head Coach Jim Hiller had to make adjustments to try and limit the Oilers chances. They changed the lines and lost. They changed goaltenders and lost. They tried switching up their 1-3-1 forecheck and lost. Time may be running out to fix these issues as they have one game left to figure it out . Lose and go home, win and it is on to game six, then seven. Edmonton has everything going for them as this time and are playing exceptional hockey. The Kings may be pressing too hard trying to find a way to solve the Oilers.

Oilers defense shining

Edmonton is known for their elite offense and that part of their game has come through in this series. However, the Oilers defense has received little credit for the work they have done against Los Angeles. While the Kings offense is not elite, they have been shutdown in this series so far. The neutral zone is clogged up, no space in the offensive zone to create offense, and there is little time and space for a transition game, then there is Skinner to close the door between the pipes. Edmonton has a 2.50 goals-against-average in the playoffs, which ranks fifth in the league. They also have a perfect penalty kill, which ranks first in the league at 100%. Skinner ranks ninth in the league among goaltenders with a .919 save percentage and has been excellent, turning away the few chances Los Angeles has had in this series.

What is left for the Kings?

Down 3-1 in the series, and on the road for game five, one would imagine the Kings would play loose hockey. Los Angeles has few options but to lay it all on the line and throw everything they have at the Oilers in their time of desperation. In terms of who plays between the pipes, David Rittich looked solid in game four, allowing one goal and limiting the second chances for Edmonton so he gets the start for me. Los Angeles needs the best effort from everyone in the lineup as their backs are against the wall and could be eliminated by the Oilers in the first round for the third straight season. The Kings could not care less about how it happens but they need to push this series to a game six, then a game seven. Remember, the last win is the hardest one to get.

Los Angeles is facing more than a first round exit for the third straight season. A number of off-season questions are already coming to the forefront. Will General Manager Rob Blake be back? Does Hiller keep his job? Who gets re-signed and who finds a new home? Players are playing for jobs and their place of employment next season could hinder on what happens the rest of this series.