PREVIEW: Vancouver Canucks hope to slow Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid

Feb 20, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) moves the puck past Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm (28) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Tongues were wagging around the NHL when Edmonton star Connor McDavid provided yet another dominating performance Saturday in the Oilers’ 7-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

Heading into Edmonton’s road clash against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, though, the Oilers are looking at their team game.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Canucks, check out #Canucks rumors, rankings, and news here.

Edmonton has won nine of 11 games and has clamped down defensively, having held the Flames to two goals total in a two-game set and having surrendered four goals overall in its past three outings — all victories.

“We played a pretty solid game all over the ice and didn’t give them much,” said goaltender Mikko Koskinen, who made 43 saves. “Especially we didn’t give them odd-man rushes, which is important.”

It helps, though, to have the league’s leading point-scorer. McDavid was a human highlight reel while collecting a hat trick in a five-point night, and his teammates know how special their teammate is.

“There’s not anybody out there like him,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had a three-point outing with two goals and one assist. “He drove the game for us right from the start, and we followed along. I thought he was solid all night. It’s fun to watch and fun to be a part of.”

For his part, though, McDavid took it all in stride. In fact, he’s thinking of more long-term goals.

“You have some nights when the puck just goes in for you and you don’t feel that good, and you have nights where you feel amazing and it just doesn’t go,” McDavid said. “Hockey is a crazy game like that. I felt good and it went in for me, but I thought our team played really well. …

“To be able to win both (games against Calgary) and in regulation, it’s big for us. But it’s still early on in the year, there’s lots of hockey left. We’re playing well and we need to keep winning games.”

The Oilers and Canucks split a pair of games to start the season.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Oilers, check out #EdmontonOilers rumors, rankings, and news here.

Vancouver has dropped two straight — and three of four — with the latest a 4-3 overtime loss at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. The Canucks grabbed a 2-0 first-period lead, fell behind 3-2, scored a final-minute equalizer and then lost in the extra frame.

“This was an emotional loss for our group,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. “We did a lot of good things and made some mistakes and it’s just not going for us, but that’s reality. We’ve got to be honest with our team and reset.”

Vancouver has two wins in its past 11 games (2-7-2), and keeping morale out of the gutter during these struggles is a challenge.

“We have to stay positive,” said Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, who scored a pair of goals in the Sunday loss. “Nothing comes with being negative. We could have had a lot more wins the past two weeks and we just have to get ready for the next one.”

The Canucks have been better lately compared to their early-season struggles, with their special teams more effective and scores much closer. However, that isn’t adding up to wins.

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“At some point, these moral victories don’t really count,” Vancouver forward Brandon Sutter said. “It’s frustrating because we feel our game is better than when we had that rough patch. There’s a different feeling in the room and on the bench. There’s still a lot of confidence in our group and we can feel it. We can’t hang our heads, we’ve got to keep going.”

–Field Level Media