McDavid scores, Smith has 29 saves as Oilers beat Flames 4-1
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
Ethan Bear, Josh Archibald and Darnell Nurse also scored for the Oilers, who finished with a 6-4 record against the Flames. Leon Draisaitl assisted on all four goals and Mike Smith made 29 saves for his 18th win.
The offensive performance came two days after the Flames kept McDavid off the scoresheet for the third time this year in Calgary's 5-3 win.
“Nothing ceases to amaze me with this kid,” Smith said. “It’s incredible how he continues to get better and better. … When he gets shut down one game, the next game he’s that much more hungry to get out there and help the team win. It says a lot about the maturity of him as a person.
“Everybody knows how incredible he is on the ice, but I’ve seen a young man grow into a leader of this hockey club.”
Johnny Gaudreau scored for the Flames, who lost ground in the divisional playoff race. Goalie Jacob Markstrom stopped 25 shots in defeat.
It was another critical game for Calgary, who are eight points behind Montreal for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. The Canadiens came from behind to defeat the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in overtime earlier Saturday.
“Obviously we’re disappointed in how we didn’t get the job done tonight,” Calgary's Christopher Tanev said. “We can sit here and say this and that, but at the end of the day we lost the game and we weren’t good enough.”
Down 2-1 in the third, Calgary pressed for the equalizer while playing carefully enough to avoid conceding again. But Smith stopped all 11 shots he faced in the period.
The two teams met on Thursday, with Calgary winning 5-3 on a pair of goals by Elias Lindholm.
The Flames took pride in keeping McDavid and Draisaitl off the scoresheet in that encounter — something they’ve done three times this season — but it didn’t take long for Edmonton’s high-flying offensive duo to get off the mark on Saturday.
McDavid put the Oilers in front 1-0 with an end-to-end play at 4:46 of the first on the power play. Starting behind his own net, the Edmonton captain fed Draisaitl in the neutral zone before getting the pass back at the blue line. McDavid then charged past two defensemen, dangled the puck in front of Tanev and snapped it high past Markstrom for his 29th.
The Oilers doubled their lead a few minutes later with McDavid turning provider. A good cycle play in the offensive zone ended when McDavid found Bear at the side of the net. Bear’s one-timer, which may have taken a slight deflection off Nikita Nesterov, beat Markstrom stick side at 7:19.
McDavid nearly scored another in the second period, on the power play, but he didn’t get everything on a shot that was stopped by defenseman Michael Stone on the doorstep.
“In a playoff series, you can’t lose two in a row,” said McDavid, who was playing his 400th career NHL game. “We were able to bounce back in a series where they’re fighting for their life. It’s desperate hockey, it’s playoff hockey. Thought we did a great job responding.”
Gaudreau was denied a great chance to get on the board early in the second when his shot on the breakaway beat Smith but rang off the crossbar.
Gaudreau wasn’t be denied later in the period, though, when he extended his point streak to seven games at 10:48. Matthew Tkachuk powered his way to the net and fired a shot on Smith, who kicked it with his pad right to Gaudreau on the rush for the back-handed rebound. Gaudreau has 12 points in his past 10 games.
Archibald scored the first empty-netter for Edmonton with 1:06 left in the game. Nurse added the other 40 seconds later.
Flames: Host Winnipeg on Wednesday night.
Oilers: At Vancouver on Monday night to open a stretch of four straight against the Canucks.