Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl fuel Oilers in 7-3 win over Flames

·4 min read

CALGARY — The NHL's top two scorers helped unleash the Edmonton Oilers' firepower in a 7-3 romp Wednesday over the host Calgary Flames.

Oilers captain Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists, and Leon Draisaitl assisted on three goals for Edmonton (19-13-0).

McDavid tops the league's scoring race with 56 points followed by teammate Draisaitl with 49.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jesse Puljujarvi, Dominik Kahun, Darnell Nurse, Zack Kassian and Alex Chiasson also scored for the Oilers, who avoided a third straight loss.

Defenceman Tyson Barrie had a career-high four assists, and Mike Smith made 30 saves for the win.

"It's pretty incredible the skill we have on this team," Barrie said. "It's world-class, as good as it gets."

Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau replied for the Flames (14-13-3), who lost their first game under Darryl Sutter since he took over as head coach.

Geoff Ward was fired March 4. The Flames won three in a row with Sutter behind the bench, but the wheels fell off Wednesday when Calgary trailed 7-1 midway through the third period.

Jacob Markstrom turned away 23-of-30 shots in the loss. Sutter said he never considered pulling his starter for David Rittich.

"Not for one shift, second, minute, anything," Sutter said. "Every team I've ever coached, I do not pull the goalie.

"I believe they fight their way out of it just like everybody else. It's basically a trust thing because I think he's an awesome goalie. But he has to be able to battle too."

Edmonton ranks third in the North Division, and leads the season series against Calgary 4-2 with four games remaining.

The Flames were three points back of the Montreal Canadiens, which held down the fourth and final playoff spot.

Calgary trailed in a game for the first time under Sutter. The Oilers scored three consecutive goals before the Flames responded.

The Oilers poured four goals into Calgary's net in a span of just under seven minutes to start the third period.

Calgary hadn't allowed a power-play goal in five straight games, but gave up three Wednesday.

"It's three-one going into the third and we feel like we have a chance," Flames captain Mark Giordano said.

"We take two penalties and they score on both and it's five-one. They're sitting back and waiting for us to get through them. You can't play open against a team like that, that has that much skill."

Gaudreau scored a power-play goal and Backlund also scored late in the third period to make the score less lopsided.

Kassian played his first game since breaking his hand in a fight Feb. 8 and produced Edmonton's seventh goal at 8:38.

"It's crazy how momentum swings once the big guys take over," Kassian said. "It just trickles down the lineup. From top to bottom, we were solid tonight from Smitty on out."

McDavid rushed the puck deep into Calgary's zone and fed Nurse for the defenceman to beat Markstrom glove side at 5:55.

Chiasson tipped a Nugent-Hopkins shot home at 3:44. Barrie at the point passed to McDavid, whose quick -release wrist shot beat Markstrom between the pads at 1:50.

"When you're playing against Connor McDavid, especially when you're trailing, when you chase the game and you give chances, and play that run-and-gun style, he's sniffing for blood," Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk said.

Tkachuk circling from behind the net sent a goal-mouth pass across to Lindholm to finish at 9:04 of the second period. Kahun roofed a between-the-legs pass from Draisaitl 25 seconds earlier.

The visitors led 2-0 on Puljujarvi's power-play goal at 7:22 of the first period. He redirected a Barrie shot from the point between Markstrom's pads.

McDavid turned a Milan Lucic defensive-zone turnover into a goal at 4:39 of the first period. McDavid dished the puck across to Nugent-Hopkins to shovel over a diving Markstrom.

The Oilers have a quick turnaround facing the Winnipeg Jets at home on Thursday. The Flames head to Toronto for back-to-back games against the division-topping Maple Leafs starting Friday.

Notes: Draisaitl extended his point streak to eight games with seven goals, eight assists in that span . . . McDavid stretched his streak to seven games with four goals, 12 assists . . .Edmonton forward Jujhar Khaira didn't dress Wednesday because of an upper-body injury sustained in a fight Monday with Calgary's Brett Ritchie.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 17, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press