The Ottawa Senators will get a second chance to stop the Edmonton Oilers’ dynamic duo, but a new game plan will be a necessity.
Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid were paired on the same line Wednesday and put on a show in the first game of a back-to-back with the Senators, winning 4-2. The repeat matchup is set for Thursday at Ottawa.
In a nod to symmetry, Draisaitl had three goals and an assist Wednesday while McDavid had three assists and a goal.
Making life hard on the Senators is nothing new for the pair. It was Draisaitl’s fourth career regular-season hat trick, with two of them coming against the Senators this season.
McDavid now has 20 points (four goals, 16 assists) against Ottawa this season while Draisaitl has 21 (10 goals, 11 assists). The last time an Oilers player had at least 20 points against one team, Wayne Gretzky did it in 1986-87 against both the Vancouver Canucks (25 points) and Los Angeles Kings (21).
“There are some great goal-scorers around the league, and he’s right up at the top two, I think,” McDavid said, putting Draisaitl in a class with the Washington Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin.
Said Draisaitl about his line: “It’s hard to defend, especially (McDavid), because he’s the best passer in the game.”
McDavid now has 68 points, the most for an NHL player through 40 games since the 1999-00 season when the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Jaromir Jagr had 72.
“They’re both elite players and they both make plays,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said of McDavid and Draisaitl. “They play off each other well, they find opportunities and they capitalize on opportunities that are not normal goals. They (do) what top, top players do.”
It comes as no surprise that Edmonton has won all eight matchups against the Senators this season and can get one more in the season-series finale Thursday.
The Oilers are in second place in the North Division with 50 points, one ahead of the Winnipeg Jets. The Senators are on the other end of the standings, in last place in the all-Canada division with 30 points. Only the Buffalo Sabres have fewer points in the NHL.
The Senators have lost four of their past five games (1-3-1) and have given up at least three goals in every game of that stretch.
In Wednesday’s defeat, Ottawa’s Josh Norris scored his 10th goal while Connor Brown scored his 11th. They are two of five Senators with double-digit goals, although nobody has more than 12. By comparison, McDavid has 23 and Draisaitl has 22.
“Obviously their two big guys came to play and scored some really big goals for them, but I thought from our end we did a lot of really good things and played a good hockey game,” Norris said.
Senators goaltender Marcus Hogberg started for the first time since Feb. 18 and made 31 saves, doing what he could against two of the best offensive stars in the NHL. He was back after being sidelined due to a lower-body injury.
“Some elite players made some elite plays on us,” Brown said. “You’ve just got to keep fighting. (There are) a lot of positives to pull.”
–Field Level Media