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Oilers, Kings both have big reasons to want Game 2 victory

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The Edmonton Oilers say they're pleased, obviously, with winning their first game of this year's National Hockey League playoffs.

After all, Monday's series-opening victory over the Los Angeles Kings at Edmonton's Rogers Place was the Oilers' first Game 1 win in a postseason matchup since beating the Anaheim Ducks in one in 2017

And also obviously, Oilers players say they have more work to do to ensure they capitalize on their chances to beat the Los Angeles Kings again in Wednesday's Game 2.

It's only the beginning of a potential two-month grind of playoff hockey, after all. One win down, 15 to go for Edmonton's — and every other NHL Game 1 winner's — goal of a Stanley Cup championship.

"Obviously, the emotions are ramped up, the energy in the building is ramped up, the energy in the room's ramped up with it, (but) at the end of the day, it's the same game out there," Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who scored a goal in Monday's 7-4 win, said to media following practice on Tuesday.

"There's a little more physicality and that you understand every play matters a little bit more, so you've got to be mentally sharp, but at the end of the day, it's hockey and you play 82 games of the same thing, so you've got to take what you can from those 82 games, play confident and understand that you don't need to change too much."

Teammate Evander Kane, who missed the Oilers' final three games of the regular season due to a sports hernia but returned to the lineup against L.A., told reporters he expects some desperation from the Kings in Wednesday's Game 2.

"I thought we moved the puck through the neutral zone pretty smoothly against a team that really clogs it up," Kane said.

"I think they'll be a little bit better in terms of their system play (Wednesday) night, so that's something we're going to have to continue to work on."

That said, the Oilers — if they want an even-bigger advantage in the series, and surely they do — want to win Game 2, too.

"It's a different vibe in the sense that you have an opportunity to get two (wins) at home," Kane said. you have an opportunity to get a 2-0 lead early in the series rather than coming from behind like we have the past two years. It allows you to build confidence earlier and try to carry that momentum into the next game."

Kings centre Pierre-Luc Dubois, who's playing his first postseason with L.A. since being acquired last summer from Winnipeg in a blockbuster trade, said his team needs to get back to playing the brand of hockey that benefitted them most of the year: creating chances off rushes.

"We've been really good all year, eliminating other teams rushes," said Dubois, who scored one of his team's goals on Monday.

"We can score from a rush, we could also create momentum, create a good offensive zone shift ... There are a couple of things that we can do better, but we're not pressing the panic button. We know that we've played better hockey this year, and we can do it in the next game." 

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