In the end, it was a far different game Thursday night as it was Wednesday night. Connor McDavid made up for not giving himself a birthday present by scoring a hat trick and an assist and teammate Leon Draisaitl scored four assists as the Edmonton Oilers beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2.
Other Oilers’ stars also contributed, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scoring two times himself and adding an assist. It was total payback from an Oilers 5-3 loss to the Canucks the night before in the opener for both teams.
As Draisaitl noted, ”I thought it was a very solid game. Yesterday was not the way that we want to show up and we want to play. I thought it was a great response tonight.”
The Oilers Special Teams Dominated
The Oilers power play got back to last-season’s normal by connecting twice after throwing up zeroes (0 for 4) on Wednesday. Last season, the Oilers’ had the NHL’s top power play unit – firing at 29.5 percent.
As McDavid noted, ”The power play was good. The (penalty kill) was good. I think the hockey games have gone the way I kind of expected, a little bit more high scoring than they might be at this time of year if it was a normal year, and that’s across the league.”
Mikko Koskinen, who replaced Mike Smith – who couldn’t play – saved 38 of 40 shots for the Oilers.
The Canucks’ Scoring Leaders
Newcomer defenseman Nate Schmidt and fireplug forward Tyler Motte scored for Vancouver. Although Thatcher Demko stopped 41 shots – some of them incredible early in the game – in the end he also gave up five goals. He was a far cry from his postseason, record-setting self.
After the game, Schmidt admitted that the Oilers ”came out a lot harder than we did to start the game, put us back on our toes early.”
Schmidt added a moment of caution for he and his team. ”We’ve got to get used to this. This is going to happen. You play the same team on back-to-back nights in their own building, it’s going to happen. ”
What’s Next for the Oilers and the Canucks?
Both teams play again on Saturday and Monday nights. The Canucks go into Calgary for those two games. And the Oilers play host to the Montreal Canadiens.
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