Though the Los Angeles Kings are excited to return to California for Game 3 of their series with the Edmonton Oilers, they will be without forwards Blake Lizotte and Kevin Fiala, coach Todd McLellan announced on Friday.
Lizotte is an intense forechecker who missed only a game in the regular season en route to collecting 11 goals, 23 assists, and 34 points, all career-highs. He suffered a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
Deadline acquisition Zack MacEwan will take Lizotte’s spot in the lineup while Gabe Vilardi moves inside to replace him as third-line center.
Fiala has yet to play in April, let alone the postseason, and remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.
The first-year King’s power play contributions and scoring could change the tight series; Fiala was Los Angeles’s second-leading scorer during the regular season and the team’s lone point-per-game player (23 G, 72P in 69GP).
Fiala’s offense could turn the tide in LA’s favor when he does return, but for now, the Swiss international is still not skating in practice.
McLellan needs his team to return to health if they are to upset the high-powered Oilers. The Kings overcame multiple-goal deficits in the first two games of the series and have given Edmonton all they can handle and then some.
Still, the Oilers avoided repeating Game 1’s mistakes by buckling down and putting their Pacific Division rivals away in the third period.
Leon Draisaitl has been unstoppable thus far, and the Kings’ Drew Doughty-led defense should expect a characteristic eruption from Connor McDavid, who has been kept quiet by lockdown centers Anze Kopitar and Phillip Danault so far.
If Los Angeles wants to hang with the Oilers once they hit their stride, they need Fiala, whose spot again goes to Jaret Anderson-Dolan for Game 3.
The puck will drop at the Crypto.com Arena at 10 pm ET as the Kings try to hold onto the home-ice advantage they stole in overtime of Game 1.