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Connor McDavid, Oilers aim to stay hot vs. Blue Jackets

Feb 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) skates with the puck around Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Jeff Petry (26) during the third period at PPG Paints Arena. Edmonton won 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Edmonton Oilers vie for their third straight win and look to avenge a previous loss to the Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon when the teams meet in Columbus, Ohio.

Edmonton owns an 11-1-5 record in its last 17 games, with its lone regulation setback being a 6-2 loss at Montreal on Feb. 12. Since then, the Oilers are 2-0-3 and are coming off a 7-2 road rout of Pittsburgh on Thursday.

“When we’re skating at that level, I think we are a tough team to handle,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said.

To no surprise, Edmonton superstar captain Connor McDavid continues to thrive with a career-high 46 goals to go along with 63 assists. He recorded four points (two goals, two assists) on Thursday, marking the ninth time this season he has reached that mark in a game.

“I heard someone say it’s like living at the foot of Everest; you almost get numb to what you’re seeing every day,” Woodcroft said of McDavid. “I think it’s important that everybody takes a step back and understands that we’re seeing someone at the top of their craft in the prime of their career putting out there what he’s putting out.”

McDavid, however, managed only an assist during the Oilers’ 3-2 overtime home loss to Columbus on Jan. 25. Teammate Zach Hyman scored one of his career-high 27 goals in that contest.

Meanwhile, rookie Kent Johnson scored in overtime for the Blue Jackets in that game, while Johnny Gaudreau managed just an assist. Gaudreau, with a team-leading 52 points, returned from a two-game absence due to a lower-body injury in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Minnesota.

Columbus, last in the Eastern Conference with 41 points, has dropped two straight (0-1-1) after winning two in a row. The Blue Jackets have also been shut out twice and totaled five goals during their last four home games (1-3-0).

“You’ve got to fight for your ice,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen.

“When you get behind, you’re chasing.”

The Blue Jackets’ Joonas Korpisalo made 23 saves on Thursday and has stopped 88 of 92 shots in his last three starts. He made 34 saves at Edmonton last month.

Edmonton’s Stuart Skinner (2.89 goals-against average) has allowed two goals in each of his last two starts after yielding all six in that loss to Montreal earlier this month. However, the Oilers’ Jack Campbell has a 4.33 GAA during his current 0-0-3 starting rut.

Fellow Edmonton star Leon Draisaitl has six goals with five assists during a seven-game point streak. He failed to register a point against the Blue Jackets last month, however.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a goal on Thursday. It marked his 600th career point since being selected as the top overall pick of the 2011 NHL Draft.

“I’ve been lucky to be part of this group for a long time and play with some great players,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “I think every year, like everybody else, I’m trying to get better and better and work out my game, try to round it out a lot. I want to be that two-way player. Trying to find my stride.”

–Field Level Media