Preview: Lightning riding 2-game win streak into showdown against Connor McDavid, Oilers
TIME: 7:30 p.m.
McDavid continues to put up points on a consistent basis and sits second in league scoring with 22 points through 14 games. The Oilers’ captain has registered a point in 13 of 14 games this season with seven multi-point games to this point. The only team to hold McDavid off the scoresheet this season is the Nashville Predators, who shutout Edmonton on Oct. 27.
But as has been the case the past couple of seasons in Edmonton, the Oilers supporting cast ranks far behind when it comes to offensive production. While McDavid has already hit the double-digit mark in goals and assists, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl are the only other players on the roster to hit that mark in points, with 16 and 15 points, respectively. No other player has recorded more than seven points through the first month of the season.
McDavid had one of the two Edmonton goals on Monday as the Oilers saw a five-game road winning streak come to an end with a 4-2 loss in Washington.
“We gave it away early and when you’re playing that quality of team you can’t give up goals like that,” Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan told The Edmonton Journal. “We didn’t give up much after that but when you’re chasing against the Stanley Cup champs, you’re going to lose more often than not.”
Things won’t get easier for the Oilers while facing the team Washington beat in the Eastern Conference finals on the way to that Stanley Cup title as Tampa Bay uses its depth at forward as a strength.
The Lightning have seven different players who have already reached the 10-point mark and four with at least five goals. And of the 20 skaters who have dressed so far this season to appear in at least two games, 12 have scored at least two goals.
That includes leading scorer Brayden Point, who was named the No. 3 star of the week by the league on Monday. Point leads the way with 17 points and eight goals while tied for the team lead with nine assists.
Point does all this while taking on the top defensive assignments on a regular basis — Point picked up five points last week while matched up against New Jersey’s top line that includes reigning MVP Taylor Hall — and he figures to see plenty of McDavid when the two teams get together.
“He’s been doing it for a couple years now, and he’s the guy that has to face those big lines more often than not and it’s a bonus for us,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s somebody who is such a good two-way player to be able to have that assignment of not only playing a big part in shutting down a team’s big line but then to get the points he was getting on top of that, that’s what makes him the player he is today.”
Tampa Bay remains without the services of defenseman Victor Hedman (upper body) and forward Ondrej Palat (lower body), both of whom have missed five games and remain questionable for a return this week.