The Oilers couldn’t score on 2 Power Plays and in fact surrendered a shorty. But they were 0/3 on the Penalty Kill.
In the end, a terrific performance by Bouchard on the blueline, Connor McDavid up front and Smith in the net…all major factors in the victory.
Here’s the tale of the tape…
MIKE SMITH. 8. Terrific game. A solid 1st Period stop on Arvidsson. Yet another stretch pass to McDavid led to a dangerous 1st Period chance. Beaten 5-hole on a sloppy sequence of events in front of him on the 1-1 shot-handed goal against. But then held his club in it the rest of the 2nd, including big stops off Iafallo, Kempe, Arvidsson and Moore. His pass started the push up the ice that ended in the 2-1. Opened the 3rd with yet another big stuff on Iafallo. Then stopped Kempe on a breakaway. The 3-2 against was through a forest of legs and sticks, no chance for Smith on that. Handled the puck expertly all night and stopped 30-32. For all the heat directed his way over the course of this season (and some of it deserved), right now? At 5-0-1 in his last 6 starts Mike Smith is looking like the club’s #1 man.
CONNOR McDAVID. 8. McDavid extended his point streak to 15-games point streak (13G, 16A) with a beautiful 1st Period goal for his 42nd (a career best). Connor took a smart Bouchard pass and then fired a wrist shot high short side on Quick for the 1-0. #97 has now scored in 6-straight, also a career high. A tidy pass back to Bouchard at the point for the 3-1. A Leon-like bump to help peel off coverage and then set up Puljujarvi for a 3rd Period shot. His dump into the defensive corner eventually turned into the 3-2. Put 4 pucks on net in all, and went 53% in the circle. Up to 108 points now to lead the NHL.
EVANDER KANE. 7. Kane’s 1st Period tip was handled by Quick. Later, just missed on a nice setup from Puljujarvi. Took a needless kneeing call in the 2nd but his mates killed it off. Couldn’t cash on a good 2nd Period feed from Puljujarvi. His heavy play in the corner led to Bouchard’s 3-1. Heavy presence all night. 3 shots, 3 hits.
KAILER YAMAMOTO. 6. A takeaway and shot on a 1st Period PK. Drilled in the numbers into the boards by a Kings player in the 1st but apparently that’s legal now. Couldn’t slam home a feed in front from Draisaitl in the 2nd. Started a particularly good 3-way passing play with Hyman and Draisaitl in the 3rd. 4 hits led the team.
DARNELL NURSE. 6. Both the Oilers top 2 D-pairings were solid. A strong play by Nurse in the 1st to clear the slot on what looked like a dangerous LA opportunity. 3rd Period hooking call. 6 blocked shots, 2 hits in a team leading 24:57 TOI.
CODY CECI. 7. He and Nurse played a bunch, Ceci 24:34. Had 2 shots, 5 blocks and 3:34 of effective work on the PK. Strong in HDSC’s, 7-2 on a pairing that faced a lot of tough matchups.
LEON DRAISAITL. 5. Looked less than 100%. Couldn’t contain his man off the wall on the 1-1 shorty. Fed Yamamoto for a 1-timer in the slot. Just missed a 3rd Period wrap-around. Hammered a 1-timer off a Nugent-Hopkins pass on a 3rd Period PP but couldn’t cash. An important faceoff win and then a great keep deep in the LA zone to help kill the clock. 53% on draws.
ZACH HYMAN. 5. Played hard. Ragged a bunch of time off the clock on a 1st Period PK. A 2nd Period power move led to a shot off a wrap-around. An excellent job of cycling the puck low to prevent the Kings from being able to pull their goalie with seconds left on the clock, his best moment on the night.
JESSE PULJUJARVI. 6. Created a good chance for Kane late in the 1st off a dogged wall-to-wall forecheck. Set up Kane for a good 2nd Period chance as well. An excellent poke check stymied a Kings sortie late in the 2nd. Lost a puck battle deep on the 3-2 goal. Good chance off a nice McDavid puck protect & pass.
EVAN BOUCHARD. 9. Perhaps the best game Evan Bouchard has played as an Oiler. Intercepted a puck in the Oilers D-zone and immediately made a smart headman pass to McDavid who did the rest on the 1-0. Did much the same thing on a sequence later in the 1st that resulted in a good scoring chance for Kane. In the 2nd, he gained the line, pulled up, then fed a smart pass to Ryan who set up Foegele’s 2-1. Finally, fired a heavy Bouch-bomb from the point which Quick couldn’t corral for his 10th and a 3-1 Oilers lead. The goal was Bouchard’s 1st in 31 games. Named the game’s #1 star and deservedly so.
DUNCAN KEITH. 7. Highly effective, alongside Evan Bouchard. 1st Period trip. Good 2nd Period block & clear. A 3rd Period PK steal, allowing Bouchard to clear the zone. On for 5 High Danger Scoring Chances For, just 2 Against. Looks to be in post-season mode.
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 5. No assist but his transition pass through the neutral zone helped create the 2-1. Couldn’t push an uncovered puck late in the 2nd past Quick’s trapper. Good, not great.
WARREN FOEGELE. 7. One of his best games in a while. Turned on a hard North-South effort. Snapped home his 10th top shelf on a pretty passing play from Ryan. Then, a terrific stretch pass sent Ryan in all alone in the 3rd.
DERICK BRASSARD. 4. 1st Period turnover. A couple hits. Only played 5:51, ended up on the 4th line.
TYSON BARRIE. 4. Burned badly on the short-handed 1-1 goal against and the LA player closed on him fast and knocked him off the puck. Helped make up for it a bit with a good stick in his own zone a few shifts later. HDSC’s For/Against was an un-good 1-4.
BRETT KULAK. 5. Kulak cleaned up the slot on a dicey looking LA chance on their 3rd period PP. Better door than a window on the 3-2. 3 blocks and 2 hits in 16:13. His best work was in 3:11 of PK time.
RYAN McLEOD. 6. Was flying. An early 1st Period takeaway, then set up Derek Ryan for a good chance. Minutes later, on the PK, McLeod anticipated a Kings pass, intercepted it, and burned yet more time off the clock. Moved up the lineup in the 3rd. An excellent 1:55 short-handed.
DEREK RYAN. 7. A gritty 1st Period puck battle won deep in his own zone. Fed a lovey pass across to a breaking Kane who was denied by Quick’s pad. But then sifted a pass across to Warren Foegele in the slot who didn’t miss, for the 2-1. Drew a 3rd Period PP by taking a nice Foegele pass in for a Grade “A” chance. An excellent D-zone clear with the net empty. Best game by Ryan in a long time.
ZACK KASSIAN. 4. A stick tap for playing career NHL Game #600. 1st Period turnover. A good defensive stick late in the 2nd. 3 hits. Ended the night at 4RW.
The regulation win gives the Oilers a 3-point cushion over L.A. in the Pacific, 2nd in the division with 89 points…6 back of the 1st Place Flames.
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