Nugent-Hopkins scores twice to help Oilers beat Avs 6-4
DENVER (AP) — The Edmonton Oilers broke the ice with a four-goal second period. As for the shattered glass in the penalty box, it wasn’t their fault.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice in the decisive second period, Mikko Koskinen stopped 39 shots and the Oilers extended their winning streak to four games with a 6-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.
“We didn’t give them a lot of time to breathe,” Nugent-Hopkins said about the middle period. “We were in their face a lot and putting pucks right back into their zone. That was our plan. We wanted to keep them hemmed in.”
Connor McDavid added a goal and an assist as the Oilers improved to 8-2-1 since coach Ken Hitchcock took over a struggling team on Nov. 20.
Tempers flared in the third period, with Matt Calvert and Matt Benning squaring off and drawing penalties for fighting. As Benning went to the visitors’ penalty box, a fan appeared to shatter the glass by tapping on it. Benning had to sit on a chair down the tunnel from the bench to serve his time as the shards were swept up.
“It was definitely weird. I just sat in the hallway,” Benning said. “It’s kind of boring back there. … Five minutes for being a bad boy.”
“There’s going to be dips in your season where you’re not happy with the way you’re playing,” defenseman Erik Johnson said. “There’s still confidence that we’re going to bounce back and go on another streak here.”
After Rantanen beat Koskinen, Draisaitl gave the Oilers a 5-1 advantage by knocking in a rebound. Nugent-Hopkins nearly had his third goal of the second period, only to have his wrist shot turned back by Grubauer.
Trailing 6-3 late, the Avalanche pulled Grubauer and it led to Landeskog’s goal.
Allowing three goals in the third period didn’t sit well with Koskinen.
“That’s the dangerous part when you have a big lead. You kind of start believing the game is over. But it’s never over,” Koskinen said. “That’s a little bit what happened with me. I need to be better than that.”
This has been a rough stretch for Colorado, which has allowed 21 goals over the last four games.
“We cracked. We fragmented. Then we got fancy and had some turnovers,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Some of our habits went bad and they stretched out the lead. We should be confident in our ability. We have to play confident and stick to our game.”
With his big game, Rantanen reached 52 points. It’s the second-most through 31 games in Avalanche history, trailing only Peter Forsberg (53 points during the 1995-96 season).
“Mikko is one of the best in the league right now,” teammate Nathan MacKinnon said. “If he was in New York, he’d probably be in that conversation a lot more. Since we’re in Colorado, it’s tougher. He’s so good and so important for the team.”
NOTES: Nine different Oilers had an assist. … Avalanche forward Vladislav Kamenev will have shoulder surgery. … F Alexander Kerfoot was a scratch with an undisclosed injury. … The Avs have played the fewest games at home so far this season. They’re 6-3-3 at Pepsi Center.
Oilers: Start a back-to-back Thursday in Winnipeg before a home game against Philadelphia.
Avalanche: Play in St. Louis on Friday.