April 20, 2014, Edmonton, Alta. (ISN) – The Edmonton Oil Kings didn’t play their best game Sunday, but it was good enough to get them halfway home.
Edmonton jumped out to a 2-0 lead and hung on for a 3-1 victory at Rexall Place to put them up 2-0 on Medicine Hat in the 2014 WHL Kal Tire Eastern Conference Championship.
“I didn’t like our game the last second half of the game to be honest with you,” said Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal. “I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey in this series yet.”
“We’ve had times where we’ve been playing good hockey, but we haven’t played that full 60 yet,” added Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart.
Curtis Lazar a pair of goals for the Oil Kings, getting credit for a poked in puck on a scrum in front of the net early in the second period and then scoring a short-handed beauty later in the frame to give Edmonton a two-goal cushion.
“Eddie (Kulda) did a great job. He had the initial rush but he was able to draw two guys to him,” Lazar said of his second goal. “I just casually got up the ice, found the soft spot and Dustin Schwartz gave us a good scouting report on Langhamer. I was able to get him to drop and open up room on the backhand.”
The two points tied Lazar with Michael St. Croix for the franchise record for career playoff point. Both snipers have 46 postseason points in their careers.
“(Curtis) was excellent,” Reinhart said. “I’ve been playing with him for three years now. I kind of expected that of him, same with everybody on the team. We know what he can do and we’re really lucky to have him.”
Chad Butcher scored a power play marker for Medicine Hat a short time later, but the Oil Kings held off the Tigers attack for 27 minutes before Kulda iced it with an empty net goal.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Reinhart said. “They’re a good team. We’ve played hard against them all year and we had to come out equal to the task.
“We really tried to keep the pressure up in the third period and try to shut down their top line and we were able to do that.”
Tristan Jarry made 32 saves to get his 10th win of the playoffs, while counterpart Marek Langhamer stopped 43 shots in a losing effort for Medicine Hat.
The series now shifts to southern Alberta for Game 3 on Tuesday night in a packed Medicine Hat Arena.