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Connor McDavid boosts Oilers with dominating start

Center has two assists, four shots on goal in first period against Kings

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- In two seasons in the NHL, Connor McDavid has had better games in terms of goals and assists.

The 20-year-old Edmonton Oilers center has never been more impactful than he was in the first period against the Los Angeles Kings at Rogers Place on Monday, though.

In a tight, defensive Pacific Division matchup that in many ways went as expected, McDavid was the difference in a 2-0 victory against the Kings.

He created goals by linemate Patrick Maroon 64 seconds after the start and by Milan Lucic on the power play at 12:47.

McDavid darted and danced on the attack with his exceptional speed and hands, and he was dangerous nearly every time he touched the puck.

"I'd like to play him for 60 minutes, but I think we'd run him right into the ground," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "He was exceptional, I thought, all night, like he usually is, but in that first period, he had it on a string and he made some tremendous plays.

"I don't know what else you can say about him. He went head-to-head against their best and did a great job."

With his monster first period, which included four shots on goal and nine attempts in eight shifts, McDavid reclaimed the NHL scoring lead. The Oilers captain has 82 points (25 goals, League-leading 57 assists), two more than Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The win has the Oilers (39-24-9, 87 points) tied with the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division, four behind the first-place San Jose Sharks, with 10 games left, putting them well within striking distance of their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2006.

McDavid made a statement with his first shift Monday, stripping the puck from Kings center Jeff Carter in the neutral zone.

McDavid's right wing Leon Draisaitl took the turnover and fed the puck back to him as he crossed the blue line with speed. McDavid waited a moment before taking a wrist shot that goalie Jonathan Quick stopped with his blocker.

The puck went high into the air, and left wing Patrick Maroon waited for it to fall far enough to legally bat it into the net from near the edge of the crease.

Video: LAK@EDM: Maroon waits, bats rebound in out of midair

Edmonton's second goal came on the power play.

McDavid was in a threatening spot high in the right faceoff circle, and the pass he sent to the net changed direction off Kings defenseman Derek Forbort's leg.

That disrupted Quick's angle to defend the play, and Lucic was able to get two whacks at it to give the Oilers a two-goal lead.

It was the first power-play goal allowed by the Kings in 35 times shorthanded.

McDavid got to Quick two other times during the period, racing around Kings defenseman Drew Doughty in each instance.

"He changed the game," said Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who had 35 saves for his second consecutive shutout. "Every time he got the puck he was a threat.

"We knew they played last night and we wanted to come out and set the tone early, and I think his line did that right off the bat. And you could see with his speed how much room it opens up. And then you have a big guy like [Maroon] going to the net and with his hand-eye (coordination), that was a heck of a goal by him but created by Connor and Leon as well.

"That line seems to be clicking right now, and that's what we need."

Video: LAK@EDM: Lucic slides home quick rebound for PPG

McDavid, who scored his 25th goal to break a 0-0 tie late in the second period of a 2-0 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in eight games in March.

McDavid, who hasn't gone more than two games without a point this season, deflected the credit to Talbot after the win Monday.

"Cam has been great for us all year," McDavid said. "For him to play like that in back-to-back games -- two of the biggest games of the year for us -- he was great.

"Something we didn't like about our game against Vancouver, we only came out with a 1-0 lead in the third. We felt they had quite a few chances and could have turned that game around if it wasn't for our goaltender."

It clearly was McDavid who provided the wow factor Monday.

His teammates catch themselves in that mode at times, Maroon said.

"Everyone is so wowed by him, such a tremendous hockey player," said Maroon, who has scored an NHL career-best 25 goals this season on McDavid's wing. "And what comes with that is off ice, he's humble and he's committed. He's just a really good kid and he brings that onto the ice.

"He's just one of those guys I would never want to play 1-on-1 against. He has the speed and the ability to beat guys wide and beat them 1-on-1. It's my pleasure to play with him and it's an opportunity for me to play with him."

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