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Connor McDavid carries Oilers into Kings matchup

Sportsnaut
Mar 30, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) scores a shootout goal on Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid is on a blazing hot run so it stands to reason that the Edmonton Oilers are too, heading into a key Pacific Division road game Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings with some perfectly timed late-season momentum.

McDavid will carry a 14-game points streak into the game, having scored 12 goals with 15 assists in the stretch as he steps up in a time of need for Edmonton (41-25-5, 87 points).

The Oilers, in turn, are on a five-game winning streak and just moved past the Kings (38-24-10, 86 points) into second place in the division with Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks. McDavid scored the game-winner on a breakaway 31 seconds into extra time.

“I thought our team showed a little bit of resiliency,” Edmonton head coach Jay Woodcroft said.

It was more than a little resilient. Leon Draisaitl was a late stretch, getting what was termed a “maintenance day,” while ending his consecutive-games streak at 354. And the Oilers didn’t tie the game until Ryan Nugent-Hopkins found the back of the net with just over eight minutes remaining in regulation.

Without Draisaitl, goalie Mike Smith took on the role of playmaker. After making a glove save on a Sharks odd-man rush early in overtime, Smith dropped the puck and with one hand on his stick, sent a pass toward center ice. McDavid chased it down just before the blue line and ended the game with a back-handed goal.

The goal was McDavid’s 41st, while Smith recorded his first assist of the season on a night when he made 31 saves.

“Our goalie makes maybe the play of the year there with that save and having the presence of mind to throw it up there,” McDavid said. “Smitty plays the puck unbelievably well. He was so good all night. For that to happen, it was pretty special to be a part of that play.”

The Kings enter off a 3-2 home loss to the first-place Calgary Flames, a defeat that came four days after an impressive 3-2 victory at Calgary. Los Angeles had earned points in six of seven games (4-1-2) before Monday’s loss.

Adrian Kempe scored both goals for Los Angeles for his seventh multi-goal game of the season. He also has 31 goals, reaching the 30 plateau for the first time in six career seasons. Anze Kopitar had two assists to give him 61 points, the 13th time he has reached 60 in 16 seasons, all with the Kings.

“We can certainly improve on some stuff, but I liked our complete level,” Kopitar said. “We made some mistakes, but you make ’em every night. Unfortunately, they cost us, but I like where our team is at and our mindset.”

One of those mistakes was surrendering a goal to Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau within the first 10 seconds of the game. But the Kings rallied to take the lead before the end of the opening period.

“We had some chances at the end,” Kings head coach Todd McLellan said. “We put some pressure on them, we made them penalty kill. It’s that fine line.”

–Field Level Media