Leon Draisaitl posted his 400th point and a four-point night as the Oilers downed the Chicago Blackhawks without their captain on Tuesday
EDMONTON, AB - You could say Kailer was 'Yamamotivated' to fill the void left by the Oilers captain.
Leon Draisaitl knew he had to be a driver as the only operational half of the Dynamic Duo.
But collectively, the Oilers knew they needed a full team effort without the services of their captain in the final game of a three-game homestand on Tuesday.
The Oilers did just that, pulling up their bootstraps and defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 at Rogers Place to win their 30th game of the season and gain another critical two points in the Pacific Division standings.
"I had a feeling our team would come out and play hard tonight," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "Missing Connor is a big piece out of our lineup, but I thought guys really stepped up and competed hard.
"Every team's going through some adversity, some with injuries, and we're no different than that. That doesn't mean we can't compete hard and try to find ways to win. That's what it's going to be for us from now on."
Draisaitl posted his 400th NHL point and some extra, registering a goal and three assists while Yamamoto marked his first career multi-goal game with two tallies from the German's wing to help the Oilers post their second-straight victory.
The 'little waterbug' has infected the Oilers with offence in the 15 games since his call-up from the Bakersfield Condors, chipping in with seven goals and seven assists.
"He's contagious," Draisaitl said of his linemate. "He's just so feisty, so quick on pucks and steals so many from players. He creates turnovers. It's kind of contagious for our group I think, and he's done a great job. He's really helped our team out and it's very fun to play with him right now."
Look down the Oilers lineup without McDavid, and you'll still see the NHL's leading scorer in Draisaitl extending his lead atop the leaderboard with 89 points (32G, 57A) in 55 games.
"That's insane," Yamamoto said. "But we have two of the best players in the world, so it's a lot of fun and hopefully we keep this up."
Riley Sheahan kicked the Oilers into motion early, burying his seventh of the season from Zack Kassian and Josh Archibald 1:13 into the contest as Kassian's 30th point of the season marked a new career-high.
Mike Smith made 16 saves in the third period and eight shorthanded, ending with 38 stops and extending his stellar unbeaten run in regulation to 10 games (8-0-2).
"We got on our heels a little bit and didn't make enough plays in the third, but Smitty was really good and we competed no matter what," Tippett added. "We made a few mistakes, but I liked the way we competed."
The Oilers power play gave up a shorthanded goal in the first period, but rectified their lapse by going 2-for-3 on the night to complement a perfect 3-for-3 from the penalty kill
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied together another stellar night for his line with Draisaitl and Yamamoto, scoring the game-winning goal and adding a helper to extend his productive 15-game run to 21 points (8G, 13A).
With the pre-game storylines dominated by the absence of McDavid, the Oilers pulled contributions from all over their lineup in a character victory.
"On the ice, you don't replace a guy like that in your lineup," Nugent-Hopkins, donning the Harley helmet as the Oilers player of the game, said post-game. "You have to try to find a way. Everyone has to find a way to step up their game."
The Oilers look to keep the momentum rolling when they begin a three-game road trip against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
"It's going to be a tough road trip," Nugent-Hopkins said. "We know these are three good teams we're facing, but tonight should help create a little bit of momentum heading into it.