Connor McDavid's hat trick powers Oilers over Jets 6-1

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WINNIPEG — Connor McDavid registered his third hat trick of the season and the ninth of his career as the Edmonton Oilers dismantled Winnipeg 6-1 on Monday to leapfrog the Jets for second place in North Division.

Leon Draisaitl, with a goal and an assist, Alex Chiasson and Darnell Nurse also scored for Edmonton (28-16-2), which has two games in hand on the Jets. Mike Smith made 36 saves.

McDavid, who leads the NHL in scoring with 81 points, also had an assist and now sits second in the goal race behind Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews. 

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Playing his 46th game of the season, McDavid is the fastest player to 80 points in a campaign since Mario Lemieux hit the mark in 45 contests in 1996-97. In eight outings against the Jets in 2021, McDavid has 19 points. 

The Oilers improved to 6-2-0 against Winnipeg and have won five straight versus the Jets — the team they'll likely face in the first round of the playoffs — allowing just six goals over that span.

Mark Scheifele replied for Winnipeg (27-18-3). The Jets dropped a fourth straight game in regulation at Bell MTS Place, the team's longest home losing streak since a five-game slide from Dec. 17, 2019, to Jan. 12, 2020.

Connor Hellebuyck allowed six goals on 23 shots through two periods before getting replaced by Laurent Brossoit for the final 20 minutes. He finished with seven saves.

Winnipeg began its current five-game homestand with a 3-0 loss to Edmonton on April 17 before 5-3 and 4-1 losses to Toronto on Thursday and Saturday.

The Jets and Oilers will conclude their regular-season series on the same sheet of ice Wednesday.

Already minus centre Adam Lowry (head), Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice announced before the game his team will be without 21-goal man Nikolaj Ehlers (upper-body injury) for the remainder of the regular season following a third-period collision Saturday with Leafs defenceman Jake Muzzin.

Playing just their fourth game in 16 days because of COVID-19 scheduling changes, the Oilers took the lead with 3:38 left in a fast-paced first period on a sequence that started when Draisaitl won a battle behind Winnipeg's net. He fed a pass in front to Adam Larsson, who quickly found Chiasson to one-time his eighth goal of the season past Hellebuyck.

The goal was Chiasson's fourth against the Jets in 2021, and the 100th of his NHL career.

Edmonton doubled its lead with 1:29 remaining in the period on an odd-man rush after Winnipeg turned the puck over at the offensive blue line. Tyson Barrie — playing his 600th NHL game — funnelled a shot towards Hellebuyck that took a deflection and landed on McDavid's stick for him to bury his 26th.

Hellebuyck stopped McDavid on a breakaway early in the second, but the Oilers captain sped down the wing later in the same shift, faked a shot and slid the puck between the Winnipeg goaltender's pads for his 27th at 3:38.

Draisaitl then made it 4-0 at 11:40 when he scored his 23rd on a 2-on-1 with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins after Derek Forbort turned the puck over.

Nurse continued the onslaught at 13:18, finishing off a passing play with McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi for his 14th.

Scheifele, who was benched for 17 minutes of game action Saturday by Maurice, got one back for the home side on a power play with his 19th at 15:06.

But McDavid completed his hat trick just 1:24 later by intercepting a Kyle Connor pass and moving in alone on Hellebuyck — the game's best player had time to look over his shoulder to check for any pursuing Jets he'd left in his dust — before scoring his 28th on a slick deke.

Notes: Draisaitl passed Marco Sturm for the most points by a German-born NHLer with the 488th of his career on his second-period goal. Sturm played 938 games in the NHL, while Draisaitl suited up for his 468th contest Monday. ... Oilers rookie Ryan McLeod made his NHL debut. ... Edmonton defenceman Dmitry Kulikov, who spent three seasons with Winnipeg, played for the first time since being acquired from New Jersey prior to the trade deadline.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2021.

The Canadian Press