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Round 2

Connor McDavid of Oilers 'learning' to balance offense with defense

Coach Todd McLellan says center can get more scoring chances against Ducks if he checks first

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid scored a highlight-reel goal against the Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round on Sunday, but was also minus-2 in a 6-3 loss.

The Oilers lead the best-of-7 series 2-1. Game 4 is at Rogers Place on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

Oilers coach Todd McLellan acknowledged McDavid, who has been checked tightly in the series by Ducks center Ryan Kesler, might have strayed from his defensive responsibilities in an attempt to produce more offense, which led to him being on the ice for three Anaheim goals.

Video: ANA@EDM, Gm3: McDavid snipes in top-shelf beauty

"I think he did and I think that's a natural tendency from your go-to guy when he's being checked like that," McLellan said Monday. "One of the things he's done a very good job of all season, is understanding that without his offense on some given nights we still have the ability to win. When he checks and he puts himself in positions to defend, he often ends up with many more chances."

The Ducks are using Kesler on McDavid as often as possible in the series. Through three games, McDavid has two points (one goal, one assist). He had four points (two goals, two assists) in six games against the San Jose Sharks in the first round and is second on the Oilers in scoring behind Leon Draisaitl's eight (two goals, six assists) in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"He [McDavid] like everybody else is learning," McLellan said. "And we'll sit with him. We'll show him some of the video that he'll be able to tell me about before I even get to it, because he's that sharp and he'll be better next game."

McDavid was able to score during a 4-on-4 situation in the second period Sunday, stealing the puck from Ducks defensemen Sami Vatanen and Shea Theodore. After giving Vatanen the slip in the left faceoff circle, his wrist shot beat goalie John Gibson at 8:20, tying the game 3-3. 

But McDavid allowed Ducks defenseman Josh Manson to skip past him along the boards to set up Jakob Silfverberg's second goal at 4:56 of the third period to give Anaheim a 5-3 lead. 

Kesler completed the scoring at 10:38 of the third after McDavid lost track of him in front of the Oilers net. 

Video: ANA@EDM, Gm3: Kesler bangs home puck at the doorstep

Earlier in the game, McDavid curled away from Hampus Lindholm at the Oilers blue line, allowing the Ducks defenseman a clean shot on net, which led to Silfverberg's goal at 5:33 of the first period to give Anaheim a 2-0 lead. 

McDavid, the Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL's leading scorer with 100 points (30 goals, 70 assists) had a League-best 30 multi-point games in the regular season but has yet to have one in the playoffs. 

Oilers forward Patrick Maroon said he is not worried about McDavid changing his game because of the Ducks' tight checking. 

"In my eyes he's been playing good, he hasn't been frustrated at all," Maroon said. "He scored a goal and everyone is excited for him that he scored a goal. For him, he's one of those guys that is a pass-first kind of guy. You don't want him to be, you want him to shoot a lot more.

"But he's a guy that plays hard every night, he's been our best player every night, he's been carrying our team every night, he's been our offense, so I think [Sunday] night, he scored a goal, an unbelievable goal, but I think he played really good too. I think he's been playing good the last few games."

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