The Edmonton Oilers just can’t stop scoring — or winning.
As Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl continue to conquer NHL leaderboards, other players are starting to find their game and things are starting to click, all while the team continues to build on its Pacific Division lead. With a dominant 6-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton advanced to 7-2-1 at home and 13-6-2 overall on the season, and with 28 points now, they hold a four-point division lead.
Here are five things to know about the win, which saw the Oilers again defy the odds and prove they have what it takes to be a contender following the season’s 20-game mark.
Another night, another Connor McDavid hat trick
Thursday marked another game where McDavid was at his best. After netting a hat trick in Sunday’s 6-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks, the Edmonton captain was able to record three power-play goals against the Avs in the first 40 minutes of regulation for his sixth career hat trick.
He also added three more assists en route to a six-point night, a single-game career-high total for McDavid. As per NHL PR, also became the first player to record at least six points in a game since 2012, when Sam Gagner recorded four goals and eight points in a Feb. 2, 2012 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
McDavid now has 14 goals and 37 points through 21 games to start 2019-20, putting him third in the NHL goal-scoring race and second in points behind Draisaitl.
Leon Draisaitl continues NHL dominance
“The Deutschland Dangler” had yet another standout performance on Thursday, adding five assists en route to McDavid’s hat trick and the eventual victory. A force on the power play, Draisaitl was able to make smart plays and get crafty with the puck, assisting on two of McDavid’s tallies, two Nugent-Hopkins’ goals and one Zack Kassian strike.
Draisaitl’s five points bring him to a total of 41 points on the season, keeping him ahead in the NHL scoring lead — for now. Not only that, but he was able to extend his point streak total to 11 games, with seven of those being multi-point performances.
With 15 goals and 26 assists so far, he’s on pace for 160 points this season, which would be the highest point total since Mario Lemieux racked up 161 points in 1995-96. Draisaitl has a total of 140 goals and 353 points through 372 career games with the Oilers.
Nuge is Huge
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins may have had a slow start to the season, but that’s far from the case now.
The 26-year-old scored two goals on Thursday, showing off his fast, accurate shot en route to the team’s dominant victory. RNH now has points in nine of his last 10 and more recently, three of his last four, those all being two-point performances that bring him to four goals and six points over that span. He’s also been one of the team’s biggest catalysts and secondary-scorers behind just McDavid and Draisaitl, something Edmonton has needed — and still needs this season.
At the other end of the ice, the penalty kill came up huge. While Smith did have a strong performance in net, he had to stop just one shot shorthanded, given the defense was able to keep the puck out of the zone against Colorado, who didn’t get much of an opportunity.
In 21 games this year, Nugent-Hopkins has five goals and 15 points and is on pace for his second-consecutive 50-plus point season after he put up 69 points in 2018-19.
Mike Smith continues to show stability, growth in net
With all the scoring and offense staling the spotlight, Mike Smith’s performance may have gotten lost in the mix, but it by no means went unnoticed.
The 37-year-old netminder was a force to be reckoned with between the posts on Thursday, stopping 31 of 33 shots against en route to the Oilers’ win. Smith was able to also come up big at different times with strong saves to shut down the Avalanche, who saw only Andre Burakovsky find the back of the net in the loss.
Smith is now 6-5-1 through 12 games with a 2.53 GAA and .915 save percentage, both of which rank in the top-20 among goalies.
Special teams getting the job done
Whether up a man or shorthanded, the Oilers have been superb in both scenarios.
Edmonton went 4-for-6 on the power play on Thursday. Their zone entry was clean, and they were able to show off strong passing and vision to get the puck on net and find players in the right place at the right time.
At the other end of the ice, the penalty kill came up big. While Smith did have a strong performance in net, he had to stop just one shot shorthanded, given the defense was able to keep the puck out of the zone against Colorado, who didn’t get much of an opportunity.
Behind Tampa Bay, the Oilers have the best power play in the league, operating at a 31.8 percent success rate, while the penalty kill is ranked fifth at 87.3 percent.
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