Player grades: Nurse makes house call as Edmonton Oilers celebrate McDavid’s birthday in style

Oilers 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)

A reported 6,000 Edmonton Oilers fans made the trip to Las Vegas to celebrate Connor McDavid’s 21st birthday in style. McDavid and his teammates made their first ever visit to T-Mobile Arena a memorable one when they came from behind to knock off the conference-leading (!!) Golden Knights, 3-2 in overtime. Darnell Nurse was the scoring hero, scoring the game-winner for the second night in a row to send the Oilers to their mandated mid-season break on a bit of a high, taking a boisterous band of blue-and-orange clad supporters along for the ride. (Among them, the Cult of Hockey‘s own Kurt Leavins, who’ll have a first-hand report in the next day or so.)

Of course we said similar the last time the Oilers took a schedule break, when they enetered the Christmas down time riding a four-game winning streak, only to stumble to a 1-6-1 run immediately afterwards. But with the two wins they salvaged four (theoretically) important points from the previously loveless five-game roadie, to bring their season mark to 20-23-3. That’s still eight points below the playoff cutline, with every single Western Conference rival holding games in hand. It’s a grim situation, one that requires a lot longer winning streak than two or even four games to make serious noise.

That said, all that can be done on a given day is to win that night’s game, and the Oilers did just that and battled hard to get it done. They killed off six penalties, and played shorthanded in another important was as three forwards went down the tunnel to tend to injuries of varying severity. One of them, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, did not return after suffering what appeared to be a shoulder injury; another, Milan Lucic, is lucky to be still upright after taking a skate blade to the throat. That was a near thing that put all other outcomes of this game in a different light.

Edmonton carried the play early as the Vegans looked to find their sea legs after their own mid-season break, but the home team came on strong in the back half of the contest, ultimately outshooting Edmonton 36-30. The count by scoring chances (log and summary) was exactly half of that, 18-15 Vegas, though the critical Grade A opportunities sawed off at 8 apiece.

As for McDavid, he celebrated his big day in style with 2 assists, including the 200th point of his NHL career. You were expecting something different?

Postgame podcast

Darnell Nurse is stepping up as a No. 1 d-man, his latest flurry with a great assist and better goal against Vegas in Edmonton’s OT win. David Staples and Bruce McCurdy of the Cult of Hockey dig in.

Player grades

#2 Andrej Sekera, 4. Played the least of any Oilers d-man at under 16 minutes. 12 of those were spent at even strength, during which time the Oilers got caved by shot metrics to the tune of 5 shot attempts for, 20 against, similar ratios …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal – Sports


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