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Analysis: ‘I think we owe them.’ Kings eager to flip the script with the Oilers

Los Angeles Kings right wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) celebrates with right wing Quinton Byfield (55) after scoring during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

As rites of spring go, it’s not as celebrated as the swallows returning to Capistrano. But the Kings’ returning to Edmonton for the NHL playoffs is seemingly becoming just as common.

And after a wild conclusion to the NHL season Thursday, that’s just where they’re headed for a third straight year.

Know what else has become almost as predictable? The Kings ending their season against the Oilers, a script the team hopes to flip this spring.

When the teams meet Monday in their playoff opener, it will mark the 10th postseason meeting between the two rivals; neither have faced a single postseason opponent more often. However the series has been anything but even with Edmonton winning seven of the nine previous series.

In fact, the Kings haven’t beaten Edmonton in the postseason since 1989, Wayne Gretzky’s first season in Los Angeles.

Read more: Kings defeat Blackhawks in OT thriller, will face Oilers again in playoffs

“There’s no question we’ve got a history with them,” Jim Hiller, the Kings’ interim coach said.

“We definitely want to beat them now,” added forward Quinton Byfield, who scored his 20th goal of the season in a 5-4 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Kings’ regular-season finale. “I think we owe them.”

Quite a bit of work went into making next week’s rematch happen.

The Kings went into Thursday’s game holding the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs and anticipating a first-round match-up with the Dallas Stars, the team with the second-best record in the NHL and one which has owned the Kings this season. To avoid that, the Kings had to beat the Chicago Blackhawks — or at least take them to overtime — while the Vegas Golden Knights, the reigning Stanley Cup champions, had to lose their final regular-season game to the visiting Ducks.

The second part of that equation seemed improbable: The Ducks not only had the third-worst record in the league, but their 24 road losses were third-worst in the league as well. Vegas, on then other hand, had one of the NHL’s best home records.

Vegas lost.

It was a result that appeared to knock the Kings, whose game started a half-hour later, a bit off balance when they headed out for the third period leading Chicago 3-1.

“It’s hard not to think about the whole picture, I guess. We kind of knew what the…

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