Depth, power play propel Oilers into 2nd round of playoffs
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Edmonton got significant contributions from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second straight season. However, the two superstars are getting plenty of help.
The Oilers had 18 skaters record a point in their first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings, which concluded on Saturday night with a 5-4 victory in Game 6. Both goaltenders also came up big at crucial moments.
“A lot of people look at the Oilers and think, you know, it’s a two- or three-man team. It couldn’t be further than that,” McDavid said. “Up and down the lineup we got contributions. That’s what playoff hockey is all about and it’s a good time for the group.”
Edmonton got contributions throughout the lineup even though it was only the third team in the last 25 years to have three 10-point scorers in a postseason series.
Draisaitl had 11 points (seven goals, four assists) while McDavid (three goals, seven assists) and Evan Bouchard (two goals, eight assists) had 10 apiece.
Besides 18 players getting on the scoresheet during the series, 11 Oilers notched a goal during the six games as they eliminated the Kings from the postseason for the second straight year.
The power play — which led the league during the regular season — was lethal against the Kings, converting 9 of 16 chances with the man advantage.
Bouchard tied an NHL record for most power-play points by a defenseman in a playoff series with eight points (two goals, six assists).
Edmonton appeared to be on the ropes during the first period of Game 4. Not only was it facing a three-goal deficit at first intermission but they were trailing 2-1 in the series after two overtime losses.
Over the last eight-plus periods of the series though, Edmonton outscored Los Angeles 16-8 and won three straight games.
“We have an understanding that it’s not always going to be smooth sailing. It’s OK that there’s some drama in the story,” coach Jay Woodcroft said. “I liked how we responded throughout the series. This is one of the best defensive teams in the league. I was proud of how our team altered our game in order to meet this challenge.”
Rookie goaltender Stuart Skinner won the last two games after being pulled at first intermission in Game 4. Skinner also came up big in the late stages Saturday night after he broke his stick while trying to clear a puck, which allowed the Kings to tie the game.
Kailer Yamamoto got Skinner off the hook though as he scored the go-ahead goal with 3:02 remaining.
Next up for Edmonton is the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round. Vegas has home ice in the series but the NHL has not announced when Game 1 will be played.
The Oilers won three of the four regular-season meetings, but Vegas won the Pacific Division by two points on the way to the top seed in the Western Conference.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had the most points against the Golden Knights with one goal and eight assists. Draisaitl had eight points, including five goals, and McDavid added seven (one goal, six assists).
“There’s some scars from past experiences on our team, but that’s how I think you learn and get better,” Woodcroft said. “Last year’s run to the third round (before being swept by the Colorado Avalanche) whet everybody’s appetite for playing hockey in the month of June. We’ve learned some lessons along the way to where we’ve improved as well.
“We know we’re gonna have our hands full with a very good Vegas Golden Knights team. But we’re gonna enjoy this series win before preparing for Vegas.”
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