It was a milestone night in Edmonton, as the Oilers faced the Vancouver Canucks for the third game in a row. Thatcher Demko got the start once again for Vancouver and Mike Smith was back between the pipes for Edmonton. There was a feeling in the air of Rogers Place that this one could be special, and it did not disappoint. It was another back and forth affair, and the Oilers biggest names had even bigger nights.
The Oilers broke the trend of conceding a goal in the first minute, like they had done in the last two games, by scoring a quick one of their own tonight. They came out flying to start the first period and almost got a goal just thirty seconds in, as Demko robbed Jesse Puljujarvi on a good chance, and the Canucks cleared the zone. The Oilers defensemen would control the puck in neutral ice, and find McDavid streaking into the zone once again and he’d put it five hole on Demko so quickly that the puck bounced right back out of the net. In less than a minute, it’s 1-0 Edmonton this time. 97 points for #97.
Demko would answer with another big save, this time on Ryan McLeod who one timed a great pass from James Neal. Puljujarvi would continue to get quality looks during the next shift, and he was easily the most noticeable player in the first half of the period. Jujhar Khaira and his line came over the boards next and had a great shift that ended in them all whacking away at the puck in the crease, and Demko stood tall once again.
Once Vancouver was able to get the puck on the other end of the ice, Smith corralled it behind his own net, but a misfortunate bounce caused him to misplay it and it was turned over back to the Canucks. Thankfully, he was able to recover and make the save by the time they got it out from behind the goal line. Alex Chiasson took a holding penalty, the Oilers killed off the ensuing Canucks power play, and from that point on things got much tighter in the second half of the period. Edmonton started the first with ten shots in the first ten minutes, but only two in the final ten minutes. Shots were 12-5 in favor of the Oilers and the score remained 1-0 Edmonton through the end of the period.
The second period opened with a few big saves by Smith during a net front scramble, the most impressive of which coming on Jayce Hawryluk. Demko responded with a big initial save which rebounded to McDavid, who he was able to stop in rapid succession. Then, it seemed as though Quinn Hughes had cracked Smith down at the other end, but the goal would be called back on a coach’s challenge for an offside.
McDavid picked up a loose puck at the Vancouver blue line and wired a pass to Puljujarvi who would hammer home the cross crease one timer. 2-0 Oilers. That made it 98 points for the Oilers captain.
Chiasson had to take a seat in the sin bin once again after roughing Travis Boyd. Draisaitl had an excellent shorthanded chance but was denied emphatically by another Demko save. Then it was a 2 on 1 the other way for Vancouver, answered by a brilliant save from Smith, and Bo Horvat would come crashing into him hard. He would go to the box for goaltender interference and the teams would skate 4 on 4 for a minute and a half.
JT Miller would pick off an errant pass in the neutral zone and find himself on a wide open breakaway. He’d make a move to the backhand and wait out Smith to get the Canucks on the board, taking advantage of the extra ice on the 4 on 4. 2-1 Edmonton.
The Canucks kept the pressure on as they held possession in the offensive zone, and a shot that didn’t quite get through to Smith bounced loose and found its way over to Boyd who was wide open. He would bury it from the slot for his first goal in a Canucks uniform, and tie the game up at two a piece. 2-2 all.
Miller would have to head to the box after he interfered with McDavid as he was entering the zone, and the resulting power play would be one that Leon Draisaitl will never forget. McDavid would fly into the zone, leave a drop pass for James Neal, who one touch passed it over to Draisaitl for a one timer that would find the twine and be his 500th career point. The Oilers pulled back ahead 3-2. McDavid pulled within one point of the century mark.
Tyler Graovac would score shortly after, as his success against the Oilers would continue and he’d get a highlight reel goal for the second game in a row. This time, he’d go bar down from above the circles in the middle of the ice to beat Smith and bring the game back within even. 3-3 game.
Vancouver would get a power play off of a Caleb Jones penalty, but the Oilers would kill it off. Then the Oilers would get a PP of their own, as Tyler Myers would head off for slashing Kailer Yamamoto. 40 seconds later, they’d lose another skater after Travis Hamonic tripped the real deal James Neal, and the Oilers found themselves on a 5 on 3. Just what the doctor ordered. Shortly into the opportunity McDavid would find Draisaitl wide open who hurried his second of the night, and the limited capacity crowd blew the roof off of Rogers Place. Connor McDavid collected his 100th point of the season on the play. He became the 5th fastest to reach the century mark since 1990, behind Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, and Jaromir Jagr. Does anyone know if that’s good? Let me know when you find out. That would wrap up the second period and the Oilers would take a 4-3 lead to the locker room.
The third period was much more tightly contested and there was very little room to make plays. Time ticked away on the historic night as the Oilers looked to close out the win for their captain, who just did something that hadn’t been done yet in this century. A few power plays were exchanged in the first ten minutes, and the score remained 4-3 going into the last 5 minutes of regulation. Brock Boeser had a handful of good looks in the period but Smith had the answer for all of them. McDavid almost picked up #101 but the play was broken up in front of Demko. A long time went by without a whistle until play was finally halted with just over four minutes to go, and the teams would break for a TV timeout.
When the broadcast returned the arena acknowledged that Adam Larsson had also hit a milestone, he picked up his 600th career point during the game. Play resumed and the Canucks went back to trying to get the game back to even. Every time they’d get something going, the Oilers would score a takeaway and chip it back in the Canucks end of the ice. Vancouver pulled the goalie with 1:50 to go. Archibald had a chance at the empty net from the half boards in the O zone but fired it wide. The Canucks would fail to get any more good chances offensively and the clock would strike zero. 4-3 Edmonton was the final.
McDavid made history by reaching 100 points in 53 games. Draisaitl recorded career point 500 and Larsson picked up number 600. Mike Smith had 22 saves on 25 shots, Demko had 30 on 34 as neither goalie had a night to write home about. A wide open second period led to a tight checking third, and Edmonton earned the win in a back in forth game.
Next up, the Oilers will head to Montreal for two games at the Bell Centre, the first of which coming on Monday at 5:30 PM EST. They’ll face the Canucks one more time on Saturday, though the time of the contest is yet to be decided. There’s a chance the Oilers could face Montreal in round one of the playoffs, so these next two games will be an important warm up for the second seeded Oilers.