As the Edmonton Oilers prepare to wrap up a fantastic regular season in the North Division, high-scoring superstar Connor McDavid continues to put his name in the record books.
With one final trip left in the season, the Oilers (33-18-2, 68 points) will travel to Montreal for two games against the Canadiens — on Monday and Wednesday.
Edmonton also has a rescheduled game slated for Saturday at home against the Vancouver Canucks.
In McDavid, the Canadiens (24-21-9, 57 points) will face a red-hot weapon at the top of his game.
On Saturday night, McDavid, 24, torched the visiting Canucks in the Oilers’ 4-3 win with a four-point night — a goal and three assists — and etched his name beside every marker on the scoresheet.
McDavid’s output pushed his season total through 53 games to 100 points — 32 goals and 68 assists. He has 31 points in his past 11 games and 60 over his past 28.
The No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft became the first player in 25 years and the ninth overall to reach 100 points in his first 53 games of a campaign. Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Jari Kurri and Phil Esposito accomplished the feat on multiple occasions.
In typical fashion for the blazing No. 97, McDavid was both electrifying and unselfish — dazzling, high speed but looking to pass first.
On a pair of power plays in the second period, he provided helpers to Leon Draisaitl for the tying goal — Draisaitl’s 500th career point — and the go-ahead marker by the German center with 40 seconds left in the frame.
“We obviously have bigger things to worry about,” McDavid said. “We’re going to play a big series against Montreal. It’ll be a good test for us to get ready for the playoffs.”
While Edmonton is locked into second place and will have home-ice advantage in its opening-round playoff series, the club isn’t sure who it will face.
If the fourth-place Canadiens earn four points against the Oilers, and if third-place Winnipeg — two points ahead of Montreal — stumbles over its remaining three matches against Vancouver (twice) and first-place Toronto, the Habs could meet Edmonton again in the first round.
Montreal is 5-2 in the season series and 2-1 at home against the Oilers.
However, the Canadiens have lost three straight contests, including two with Toronto, which claimed its first division crown since 2000 with a 3-2 home win Saturday night over the rival Canadiens.
The loss prevented Montreal from earning a Stanley Cup playoff berth. However, Vancouver or Calgary would have to win the rest of their remaining games to possibly overtake the famed red-white-and-blue for the final playoff spot.
In defeat, Brett Kulak scored for the first time in eight games, and Nick Suzuki tallied to become the 10th Montreal player to score his 80th NHL point at age 21 or younger.
“I have confidence in our team,” Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said. “We have players who’ll be coming back soon. We came out with energy tonight, and I think we played a good game. It wasn’t perfect. (Toronto) just capitalized on their chances.”
Top goalie Carey Price, defenseman Shea Weber, and gritty forwards Brendan Gallagher and Phillip Danault all could return for the playoffs.
–Field Level Media