That’s More Like It
Photo credit:Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
It’s a game that started with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking a 1-0 lead before fans had settled into their seats at PPG Paints Arena and ended with the Edmonton Oilers waltzing to a win, this time by a 7-2 count, just as they often have when facing the Pens in recent seasons.
In between the first and final buzzers, the Oilers scored seven straight goals, the faithful booed their Penguins off the ice with the score 6-1 at the second intermission and Connor McDavid added an exclamation mark with a masterpiece of a penalty shot to put the Oilers up 7-1. Pick your superlative, this was a waxing.
I’m not sure where this game rates in terms of the Oilers best performances in recent memory because the Penguins aren’t very good right now and the Oilers can be when they put their minds to it and play like they did Thursday. What we do know is they have an 11-1-5 streak on the go in their last 16 games and are making a move up the Western Conference standings with 23 games to play.
McDavid finished with two goals – giving him a career-high 46 — and four points as he continues to make the Art Ross Trophy scoring race a one-horse runaway. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hit 600 points with 1-1-2. Eleven Oilers registered points. The Oilers outshot the Penguins 44-24, the power play scored twice in three tries and Stuart Skinner settled in after giving up Kris Letang’s early goal. What’s not to like?
WHAT THEY SAID
Feb 23, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal by right wing Kailer Yamamoto (56) against the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) during the second period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
“I’ve played with him for eight years now, and you guys see it too,” Nugent-Hopkins said of McDavid, 22 points ahead of runner-up Leon Draisaitl atop the scoring race. “It’s a lot of fun to be a part of. I mean, that first goal, I think he was actually behind the goal line and somehow put it in over the shoulder. That’s pretty special. For him to reach his career-high in goals is obviously a huge accomplishment given what he’s done in his career.”
“All the adjectives have all been used by me,” coach Jay Woodcroft said before the team jumped a jet for Columbus and a game against the Blue Jackets Saturday. “I said this earlier in the year, the local media would have heard me say it, but I heard someone say it’s like living at the foot of Everest. You almost become numb to what you’re seeing every day.
“I think it’s important 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. And he does it day-in, day-out. He’s supported by a bunch of teammates that he loves to lead and that work hard for him. It’s quite impressive.”
Kailer Yamamoto scored the 3-1 goal. Devin Shore scored his first goal in 41 games to make it 4-1 on a heads-up feed from Jesse Puljujarvi and Warren Foegele made it 5-1 on a two-on-one with Draisaitl. As good as McDavid, RNH, and Draisaitl were in this game, this was a textbook case of all hands on deck.
THE LAST WORD
“How about Yamamoto? How about Foegele? How about the game Shore put down? Jesse Puljujarvi played a great game,” Woodcroft said. “What I really liked about the game was all the contributions we got from everybody . . . I like the way we’ve skated, and when we’re skating at that level, I think we’re a tough team to handle.”
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