Connor McDavid nets two goals, including the overtime winner, to lift the Oilers past the Coyotes 3-2
GLENDALE, AZ -Connor McDavid scored the game-winning goal 58 seconds into overtime as the Oilers squeaked out a 3-2 sudden-death victory over the Arizona Coyotes to open their three-game road trip.
Edmonton's captain finished the night with a pair of tallies and an assist to lead his team to an important two points as they cling to their post-season aspirations in the Western Conference wildcard race.
"It was good to get a win here in a building that we've struggled in for a long time," said McDavid, who was the game's first star. "Obviously it would have been nice to get it in regulation, but we'll take it anyway."
"I was really proud of our effort today," added Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. "It was a hard game against a very significant opponent."
The OT win inched the Oilers slightly closer to the Coyotes in the standings, as they're now seven points back of the current second wildcard holders with one game in hand and 11 left to play.
What initially appeared like a stumble out of the starting block turned into a positive for the Oilers when Leon Draisaitl took a high-sticking penalty just 2:44 into the game only to have McDavid tally a magnificent shorthanded goal 54 seconds later to give the visiting squad an early 1-0 advantage.
The Oilers PK unit was able to clear the zone as Kris Russell chipped the puck into neutral territory where Alex Chiasson corralled it and feathered a pass onto the stick of a streaking McDavid, who burst down the right wing, accelerated past Coyotes captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson and made a nifty finish with a chip shot over Darcy Kuemper for his 35th goal and 101st point of the season.
While it was the Oilers who scored on Arizona's first power play of the night, the home team made good on their next man advantage when Alex Galchenyuk rifled home his 16th goal of the season with 1:36 remaining as Conor Garland provided a screen in front on Mikko Koskinen. The teams entered the intermission tied 1-1 with the Coyotes outshooting the Oilers 12-4.
Edmonton and Arizona's alternating goals in the opening frame occurred rather far apart but the same could not be said for their tallies in the second as Matt Benning blasted home a slapshot to make it 2-1 Oilers but Galchenyuk scored his second of the night just 12 seconds later to draw the teams even once again.
Draisaitl started the play for the second Oilers goal, finding McDavid down low behind the Arizona net and the captain moved it quickly to Benning who had creeped in from the point. The blueliner proceeded to bomb a one-timer into the top corner for his fifth goal of the season and third in the last three games.
With his second point of the night, McDavid extended a streak of his own as he's now gone seven straight games with two or more points. On the second assist, Draisaitl reached the 90-point mark on the season and has recorded a point in 11 consecutive road matchups.
Benning had barely finished fist-bumping his teammates on the Oilers bench before the Coyotes tied it up, however, as Galchenyuk buried the rebound following a shot by Nick Cousins for his 17th tally of the year just a dozen seconds later.
After getting outshot in the opening frame, the Oilers fired more rubber at Kuemper in the second as each team totaled 12 shots in the period, giving Arizona a 23-16 advantage through 40 minutes.
Darnell Nurse drew a tripping penalty with 9:06 remaining in regulation, sending the Oilers to their third power play of the night but they were unable to break the 2-2 deadlock. Milan Lucic then took a tripping minor not long after the Oilers PP expired but Arizona was also unable to convert for the go-ahead goal, ultimately leading to extra time.
In the sudden death frame, the dynamic duo plus Oscar Klefbom went to work, with the blueliner making a slick deception play along the boards to shake his man. From there, he darted towards the net, found McDavid in the slot, got the puck to the captain's skates and the two-time reigning Art Ross and Ted Lindsay award winner flicked a shot past Kuemper for goal 36 and point 103 on the year.
"We ask a lot of Connor and Leon, and they deliver... They deliver most nights and they really delivered tonight," said Hitchcock. "It was a typical Connor game. He wasn't going to be denied, and Leon was the same."
With the first victory tucked securely into their back pockets, the Oilers are making the quick trek to Sin City and will take on another Pacific Division foe on Sunday when they battle the Vegas Golden Knights. The three-game road trip will then conclude on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.