McDavid’s 4-point night helps Oilers beat Penguins to clinch 2nd seed in Pacific Division
Five strides. That’s all it took for Connor McDavid to beat two Pittsburgh Penguins and score a stunning goal in what becomes another one-season masterpiece for the Edmonton star.
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are in shock, the latest setback being a 5-1 loss to McDavid and Edmonton on Tuesday that clinched second place in the Pacific Division and offered a portrait of two teams heading in opposite directions.
McDavid overwhelmed Pittsburgh with his speed and the kind of dazzling play that was almost exclusively Crosby’s domain. McDavid’s 22nd career four-point night ended with a nice shot from a tight angle 9:13 into the third period.
WATCH l McDavid shoots his 44th goal of the season:
With Edmonton on the power play, McDavid received a pass from Leon Draisaitl high in the slot, passed Evan Rodrigues, then slid by 6-foot-3 Jeff Carter before unleashing a shot while sliding on one skate. His 44th goal of the season gave the Oilers a three-goal lead and left the 25-year-old smiling as he skated to the dizzying Edmonton bench.
“The best player in the world, right? said Oilers forward Zach Hyman. “So that’s what you expect and that’s what you get.”
Evander Kane scored his sixth goal in his last four games with Edmonton. Hyman, Evan Bouchard and Zack Kassian also scored as the Oilers improved to 17-4-2 in their last 23 games. Mike Smith stopped 33 shots to earn his ninth straight start.
The victory secured Edmonton home-court advantage in the first round when the Stanley Cup chase begins in earnest next week. Not bad for a team that was floundering around the All-Star break. Not so much anymore with McDavid and Draisaitl in full flight and Kane on a tear.
The Penguins would know. Pittsburgh is 6-9-2 in its last 17 games after falling at home to Edmonton in regulation for the first time since 2006. Crosby had five shots on goal but did not score a point as Pittsburgh spent most of the night chasing after McDavid. .
“They’re one of the fastest teams in the league,” Penguins defenseman Marcus Pettersson said. “We are also fast. They just got the better of us in the speed department too. We have to stay closer to them and not let them pick up that speed.”
Carter scored his 19th goal for Pittsburgh and Casey DeSmith finished with 37 saves for the Penguins, who went their straight game without injured All-Star guard Tristan Jarry. The problem isn’t DeSmith’s game — he had a 52-save shutout against Boston last week — but what’s happening in front of him.
Carter tied the game 5:23 into the period when Mike Matheson’s outburst from the point went past the net and Carter’s right at bat to the door.
Twenty-five seconds later, the Oilers finished a pretty run that ended with a pass from McDavid to Kailer Yamamoto, who then slid the puck through the ice to Kane. Kane beat DeSmith for his 22nd goal in just 41 games played this season.
Hyman blocked a shot from the forward on the power play 4:08 into the start of the third to make it 3-1 and McDavid pushed his NHL-best and career-best points total to 122. with his brilliant aim.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bouchard said of McDavid. “You wouldn’t think at that age someone would get that many points, but that doesn’t surprise me at all. Watching him all year you really see the kind of player he is.”