EDMONTON — Subsequently, in light of Edmonton’s 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings that gave his team a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven playoff series, the Oilers forward Zach Hyman was in his locker room, waiting for Leon Draisaitl to complete his interviews. A few of us drifted towards Hyman because, let’s face it, he had just scored probably the weirdest goal of his NHL career. It happened at 15:47 of the second period, during a power play by the Oilers.
The Kings had just made a goalie change – from Joonas Korpisalo to Pheonix Copley – and Hyman was in his usual place, in front of goal, creating screens and havoc. Oilers power-play quarterback Evan Bouchard threw a shot from the point that wasn’t quite his usual speed.
Good, because as the puck flew towards the net, Hyman turned his head. He caught him just under the chin and deflected into the net.
“I just transformed into it a bit,” he said. “A bit of abrasion here. I just went with the punch, took it to the chin.
Someone wondered: Did Hyman’s life erupt before his eyes on this goal?
“It happened too fast, to be honest,” he replied. “Fortunately Bouch didn’t have it all figured out and if he had gotten it all he probably wouldn’t have gone where he went, so… I’ll take that compromise anytime for a goal.
“Obviously I felt it. I’ve had a few on different parts of the body, but I think it’s the first on the face, though… But you have to get to that area, and when you do it, pucks hit you. You find rebounds. Score dirty goals. That’s how you score in the playoffs. You get a nice goal here and there, but a lot of it goes into tough areas and find loose change – and sometimes it hits you in the face. Good bounce for us.
Hyman always seems to have a smile on his face — and Tuesday night there was plenty to smile about in the Oilers locker room. Sometimes you get surprises in a playoff and sometimes it just follows a storyline. That night, the Oilers followed a familiar and successful script.
Two more power-play goals for the most successful power play in NHL history, one by Evander Kane, then one from Hyman’s face. Two even-strength goals from Hyman’s new center, Nick Bjugstad, who plays with him and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins so the Oilers can load a line from Connor McDavid, Drasaitl and Kane.
The Kings showed resilience through the first four games of the series, but they had no answer for the Oilers’ star power that night. It was pretty much the most routine win you could get in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It’s part of the practice – tweak some lines, find clashes and tonight it worked,” Hyman said. “One more game to conclude. We put ourselves in a good position after tonight.
Due to scheduling conflicts in Los Angeles regarding the NBA playoffs, the series won’t resume until Saturday night, giving both teams time to rest and recuperate. The Kings, especially veterans Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, would likely benefit the most from time off. The Oilers, meanwhile, just seem to be hitting their stride. Hyman had scored the game-winning goal in overtime to secure Game 4 for the Oilers. Kane first got them on the board in Game 5.
“You don’t score as many points in every game as you would like in hockey,” Hyman said. “Woody (coach Jay Woodcroft) uses the analogy – pounding the rock. You just have to keep tapping the rock, follow the right process, and you’ll be fine; and then it starts to come in, in groups, then the other guys score and that’s kind of how you win in the playoffs. Score in all areas of your team.
All areas of your team — and all areas of your anatomy.
(Photo: Perry Nelson/USA Today)