ESPN News Services3 minute read
BUFFALO, NY — Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice to take his NHL-leading goal tally to 54 and set a career-high 124 points in a 3-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabers Monday night.
McDavid continued to plead for his third Hart Trophy for MVP in eight seasons with his 12th multi-goal game of the season, helping the Oilers score two game-breaking points in a stalled Western Conference playoff run.
“The finish was global,” Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said of McDavid scoring the go-ahead goal on the fly beating Craig Anderson in the legs at 3:23 of the third. period, and less than two minutes after the Sabers tied the game at 2.
McDavid’s 124 points in 65 games is one more than the career high he set in 80 games last year, and the All-Star center extended his point streak to 11 games, in which he registered 12 goals and 15 assists.
“I saw someone who was competitive right off the face-off,” Woodcroft said. “Connor is at a different stage of development in his game right now, and I think everyone saw that here tonight.”
An Eastern Conference city crowd that doesn’t often see McDavid in person appears to have gotten its money’s worth, though the hometown Sabers failed to pick up two runs in their fight for a joker spot.
“Who is more likely to make a big play than him?” said teammate Zach Hyman. “He’s the best player in the world and he pushes his own limits. He’s been driving the bus for a long time and continues to improve.”
Derek Ryan also scored and Stuart Skinner stopped 37 shots for the Oilers, who improved to 5-4-3 in their last 12 games and rebounded from a 7-5 loss at Winnipeg on Saturday.
Jeff Skinner and Dylan Cozens scored for the Sabers and Anderson stopped 34 shots.
Falling to 6-4 in its last 10, Buffalo continued its home season struggles by losing five of its last seven.
Buffalo (32-26-4) is in the midst of an 11-season playoff drought, the worst in the NHL, but remains in the mix and has games in hand in most of its competitions. The day started with four points separating the seventh-placed New York Islanders and ninth-placed Buffalo, who were locked in a four-way tie with teams with 68 points.
Earlier in the day, Sabers coach Don Granato declined to comment on whether he considered McDavid a cut above everyone else in the league out of respect for his young stars. Afterwards, Granato had no choice but to congratulate the Oilers captain, who scored two goals on three shots on goal.
“He’s over 50 for a reason, he doesn’t need a lot (hits),” Granato said. “He did that to a lot of teams and goalkeepers, and he was ready for his opportunities. That’s what makes it special.
The Oilers (35-22-8) moved into a tie with Seattle for third place in the Pacific Division.
After opening the scoring in the first period, McDavid scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, shortly after Cozens tied the game.
Warren Foegele pushed the left wing to win the Sabers area, then spun to hit McDavid in stride, cutting through the middle. McDavid veered to his left to pass defender Jacob Bryson and fired a shot at Anderson’s legs.
It was McDavid’s ninth game-winning goal of the season, having started the day in a four-for-second-and-one tie behind teammate Leon Draisaitl.
McDavid and the Oilers next face the NHL’s top Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.