Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) takes a shot as Dallas...

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) takes a shot as Dallas Stars' Sam Steel defends in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, April 3, 2024, in Dallas. Credit: AP/Tony Gutierrez

No matter how much they try, the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings can’t avoid meeting each other in the NHL Playoffs.

The Pacific Division rivals meet in the first round for the third straight year. The last time that happened was in 2001, when Dallas faced Edmonton.

The Oilers will attempt to repeat what the Stars did to them 23 years ago — advance to the conference semifinals for the third straight season.

Game 1 is Monday in Edmonton. The Oilers won the series in six games last season and advanced in seven in 2022.

“I think this team knows them very well,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “I think it’s important we have our reminders, but everyone knows their identity and their systems, but I think what’s important is our team finding our best game, us playing our best. To do that, we can’t alter our game too much.”

Edmonton has dominated play against Los Angeles the past three seasons, winning eight of the 12 regular-season meetings, including three of the four games this season.

“I think we owe them,” Kings forward Quinton Byfield said. “They’re going to be a tough out for sure, but they’re a team that we really want to beat.”

Los Angeles Kings left wing Trevor Moore (12) and Chicago...

Los Angeles Kings left wing Trevor Moore (12) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones (4) reach for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, April 18, 2024, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP/Ashley Landis

Both teams had coaching changes during the regular season. The Oilers had a league-best 97 points since Knoblauch replaced Jay Woodcroft on Nov. 12. That included a 16-game winning streak that was one shy of tying the NHL record.

Jim Hiller led the Kings to a 21-12-1 mark after replacing Todd McLellan during the All-Star break. Los Angeles is a league-best 14-3-1 at home since Hiller took over as the interim on Feb. 2.

According to BetMGM Sportsbook, the Oilers are tied with Colorado and the New York Rangers for the fourth-best odds to win the Stanley Cup, at 8-1. Los Angeles has the fourth-highest odds, at 30-1.

PLENTY OF FIREPOWER

Edmonton’s Connor McDavid was third in the league in scoring with 132 points and was the fourth player in league history to reach the century mark in assists. Teammate Leon Draisaitl was seventh with 106 points (41 goals, 65 assists).

The two have combined for 22 goals and 11 assists against the Kings in the past two postseason series.

Evander Kane has 10 goals in 13 games in the past two years, including a hat trick in Game 3 in 2022.

BALANCED ATTACK

Southern California native Trevor Moore led the Kings with a career-high 31 goals. Adrian Kempe was the leading scorer with 75 points (28 goals, 47 assists), and Kevin Fiala added 73 points (29 goals, 44 assists).

Anze Kopitar had the league’s seventh-best shooting percentage, with 26 goals on 133 shots (19.5%) and finished with 70 points.

Kempe has seven goals and seven assists against the Oilers in the playoffs, and Kopitar has 11 points (three goals, eight assists).

IN NET

Edmonton’s Stuart Skinner (36-16-5, 2.62 GAA, .905 save percentage) was tied for third in the league in wins and set a franchise record with 11 straight victories during the middle of the season. Skinner is looking to rebound from last year’s struggles in the playoffs, where he had a 3.68 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage.

Los Angeles’ Cam Talbot (27-20-6, 2.50 GAA, .913 save percentage) was 10th in the league in save percentage. He is 13-7-1 since going through a stretch where he lost 10 straight starts. Six of Talbot’s playoff victories have been via shutout.

SPECIAL TEAMS

This will be a matchup between two of the league’s best units.

Los Angeles was second in the league in penalty killing at 84.6%, while Edmonton was fourth on the power play at 26.3%. The Oilers were 3 of 13 with the man advantage during the four regular-season matchups.

The Kings were 12th on the power play (22.6% conversion rate) and the Oilers 15th (79.5%) when killing penalties.

PLAYOFF SERIES HISTORY

This is the 10th time the Oilers and Kings have faced off in the postseason. Edmonton has advanced seven times.

Los Angeles hasn’t knocked the Oilers out of the playoffs since 1989, Wayne Gretzky’s first season with the Kings after Edmonton traded him.

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