EDMONTON — Connor McDavid called the contest a measuring stick and the Edmonton Oilers didn’t come up short.
McDavid had a goal and two assists and added the shootout winner as the Oilers got a measure of revenge for last year’s second-round playoff loss to Vegas, defeating the Golden Knights 5-4 on Tuesday night.
“We’ll take wins any way we can get them at this point. Obviously it would be nice to close it out up two with five minutes to go — you expect to close that out — but we will take the win any way we can,” McDavid said.
“Definitely there is momentum in our room. I think we can feel it. I think what we have seen out of our last three (games) and it is something to build off of.”
McDavid has recorded 12 points in his last three games. The Oilers captain has jumped from 108th in the NHL scoring race to a tie for ninth in the span of nine days.
“There is a lot less frustration with him than there was two weeks ago,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch. “But other guys, too. When you win games and get some offence, everyone just feels better about themselves and they’re able to play hockey.”
Sam Gagner, Mattias Janmark and Evander Kane also scored for the surging Oilers (8-12-1), who have won three in a row.
Mark Stone, Mike Amadio, Ben Hutton and Keegan Kolesar replied for the Golden Knights (14-5-4) who have dropped three straight and have losses in five of their last six outings.
“I thought at times the ice was a little tilted in their favour, but we stuck with it the whole way, we never quit the whole time and we were able to squeeze a point out, so it was good,” Hutton said.
“The last few games we haven’t had the best record, but I feel like we’re getting our chances, we’re getting a lot of Grade As, but we’re hitting posts or we’re nicking a stick or whatnot. But we’re going to keep grinding and eventually those are going to go in and we’ll be on the winning side.”
Edmonton’s fourth line got the game’s first goal with 6:31 to play in the opening period off a faceoff win as Gagner sent a hopeful shot on net that seemed to surprise Vegas netminder Logan Thompson. It was Gagner’s third of the season.
The Golden Knights pulled even just over a minute into the second period as Stone showed a deft touch in front deflecting a Kayden Korczak point shot past Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner for his sixth of the campaign.
The Oilers regained the lead five minutes into the middle frame as a Mattias Ekholm blast from the top of the circle hit Thompson and caromed off of Janmark in front before trickling into the net for his first of the year.
Vegas responded just 43 seconds later as Amadio was left unmarked off of a faceoff win and scored his fourth on a backhand.
McDavid continued his hot play of late with his eighth of the season coming eight minutes into the second period as a wide shot by the Knights rang the boards and was picked up by the Oilers captain for a breakaway before beating Thompson with a backhand deke.
Edmonton went up 4-2 with a late second-period power-play marker as the rebound from an Evan Bouchard bomb came to Kane in the blue paint and he scored his 11th of the season and eighth in his last eight games.
The Golden Knights pulled back to within one with 6:30 to play in the third period as Hutton pounced on a loose puck and sent a snap shot past Skinner for his first of the season.
Vegas tied the game with 2:08 left in the third as Kolesar also recorded his first of the year, batting the puck out of mid-air and into the net to send the game to extra time.
Edmonton had a glorious opportunity at the end of overtime but Bouchard was unable to direct a McDavid pass into the net on a two-on-one.
“I thought we played a really good game for about 53 minutes there,” Kane said. “We just can’t let leads like that slip away and give a team in our division that we are trying to catch a point.”
Gagner was a late addition to the lineup as fellow forward Zach Hyman was pulled due to an illness. … The Golden Knights remained without the services of a couple of key defencemen in Shea Theodore (upper body) and Alec Martinez (lower body). … Vegas eliminated the Oilers in six games in the second round of last year’s playoffs. … The Golden Knights have struggled mightily of late after their superb start. Coming into Tuesday’s contest, Vegas had been blanked three times in its previous nine games, and had combined to score only three goals in their last four outings. … McDavid was named the NHL’s first star last week with 12 points in his last four games and nine points in his last two games before the Vegas matchup. … Oilers general manager Ken Holland celebrated his 2,000th game as an NHL GM.
Both teams return to action on Thursday. The Golden Knights wrap up a three-game Western Canada road trip in Vancouver against the Canucks. The Oilers head to Winnipeg for a one-game road trip against the Jets.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2023.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press