Draisaitl, McDavid lead Oilers in 5-1 win over Knights to even playoff series 1-1
LAS VEGAS — Leon Draisaitl continued his torrid playoff scoring pace and Connor McDavid scored twice for the Edmonton Oilers in a 5-1 win Saturday over the Vegas Golden Knights to even their playoff series at a win apiece.
Edmonton's five-goal lead by the midpoint of the game generated skirmishes and plenty of penalty minutes for the remainder as the Knights tried to assert themselves in the game in other ways.
The best-of-seven Pacific Division final switches to Edmonton for Monday's Game 3 and Wednesday's Game 4. Game 5 will be Friday back in Las Vegas.
Draisaitl scored twice for his NHL-leading 12th and 13th playoff goals this season. McDavid's two goals included a short-handed one for Edmonton's third. The Oilers' captain also had an assist for a three-point night.
The record for playoff goals in a single season is 19 held jointly by Philadelphia Flyer Reggie Leach (1976) and Oiler Jari Kurri (1985). Draisaitl is racing toward that mark.
"He's playing on another level," McDavid observed. "I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised at this point. He's the best player in the world a lot of nights. He's shown that on a regular basis.
"We're here for a lot more than scoring goals and putting up points. That's not what it's about at all. That's not what we're doing here. We're just part of the piece."
Defenceman Evan Bouchard scored a power-play goal and assisted on two others for the Oilers, who scored twice with a man advantage in the first period en route to a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Zach Hyman, who was an effective disrupter at the Vegas crease, had two assists as did Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner made 30 saves in the win, including a stop on Chandler Stephenson on a breakaway midway through the second period.
Ivan Barbashev scored a third-period goal for the Knights, who took the series opener 6-4.
Vegas starter Laurent Brossoit was swapped out for Adin Hill late in the second period after Edmonton's fifth goal on 26 shots. Hill turned away all four shots he faced in relief.
Edmonton went 3-for-6 with a man advantage and held the Knights scoreless on three power-play chances.
The Oilers were 14-for-25 with a man advantage for a 56 per cent success rate in this year's playoffs.
"When teams are undisciplined and run around, it's one of the ways we can make them pay," Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said. "One of the ways.
"We were able to come at their team in waves. There was a reason they took the penalties they did because we were playing at a certain pace."
With the game getting away from them in the second period, the Knights aimed to send a message for Game 3.
Edmonton's Evander Kane punched Knights' winger Keegan Kolesar several times during a second-period fray that produced five minor penalties, two majors and Kane's misconduct.
Kane and Kolesar tangled again with just over five minutes remaining in the third period when Kolesar took a misconduct.
"We get up five nothing and we know they're going to try to run around and cause (havoc) and get involved in the game somehow," Kane said. "I thought we did a great job answering there. Guys want to swing their sticks and hit guys on top of the head, hopefully somebody takes a look at that.
"We stuck up for each other when we had to. We're a team I don't think can be punished physically. We like to do the punishing."
Knights coach Bruce Cassidy wanted more fire out of his team from the outset.
"Most disappointing part of the game for me as a head coach," Cassidy said. "You're going to have nights you're going to get out-executed by this team. They were more competitive. We sort of got out-teammated for lack of a better term. That's disappointing. Should never happen to the Vegas Golden Knights.
"We weren't hard on the puck. Guys we rely on offensively need to understand that.
"If you're going to beat a good team that's attack-oriented, the highest scoring team in the league, you need to have the puck. You can't just hope you defend the hell out of them all night."
McDavid appeared to be checking his left ankle or leg after going down by the boards at the end of the first period.
The NHL's leading scorer this season scored a power-play goal in the second period, however, by threading a sharp-angled shot through an impossibly small opening at Brossoit's right post.
"If they want to run around and play that type of game, we'll play on the power play all night if that's what they want," McDavid said. "We're not going to sit back and take it though either."
Vegas unsuccessfully challenged Draisaitl's second goal of the first period for goaltender interference.
The Knights killed off the subsequent minor, but Edmonton's power-play had already done damage. Draisaitl and Bouchard had given the Oilers a 2-0 lead by the seven-minute mark of the game.
McDavid knocked the puck away from Knights defenceman Shea Theodore at the blue line and took it the Vegas net, where McDavid tucked it under Brossoit's left pad at 11:11 for his short-handed goal.
PLAYOFF STREAKS: Draisaitl extended his playoff points streak to eight games with 13 goals and four assists.
Bouchard posted his fifth multi-point game of these playoffs and has at last a point in all eight games (three goals, 12 assists).
The 23-year-old leads the NHL post-season in power-play points with 13.
McDavid has contributed in seven straight games with five goals and 10 assists after he was held off the scoresheet in the series-opener against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Knights' Stone stretched his point streak to six games with four goals and seven assists in that span.
NOTES: The Oilers were minus winger Mattias Janmark in Game 2 with Derek Ryan drawing back into the lineup. Janmark fell backward into the boards in Game 1. … Phil Kessel was a Knights' scratch for a third straight game. … The Knights said the 18,504 at T-Mobile on Saturday was the highest attendance since April 16, 2019.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2023.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press