Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combine for 11 points and record career highs in a 6-2 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche
EDMONTON, AB - The Colorado Avalanche roared into Rogers Place with momentum from a three-game win streak, getting the all-important first goal 1:20 into the contest having yet to lose in regulation this season when scoring first.
But it became nothing more than a slow, slow glacier in the heat of an Oilers onslaught.
After a three-goal opening frame in Thursday's tilt, the Oilers snowball kept rolling into a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche that lifts the club to a 13-6-2 and builds them a four-point cushion on top spot in the Pacific Division.
The Oilers stressed the importance of a good start and a bounce-back effort in the lead-up to their high-octane clash with the Avalanche after being staked to a 6-3 defeat and conceding three goals in the opening 11 minutes to the San Jose Sharks two days prior.
"We were ready to play," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "The players talked about it far more than I did, so they were ready to play tonight. Nobody liked how we played the other night in San Jose, and we wanted to have a bounce-back game."
"Give our guys credit. We did what we had to do to win tonight."
Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap. That's exactly what the Oilers faithful at Rogers Place did for Connor McDavid, who notched two goals and two assists in the first period before fans showered the ice in hats in the middle frame to celebrate the captain's second hat trick in three games.
"You have nights where you feel good and not so good," McDavid said post-game. "Tonight I definitely felt good. It's nice to get something early and keep it rolling."
McDavid ended the night with a career-high six points, with Leon Draisaitl holding steadfast in his wake with his own career-high of five helpers to extend his point streak to 11 games as the other half of the double black diamond threat for the Oilers atop the NHL scoring race.
"I think we just go about our business and come in every day trying to get better; trying to help the team win every night," Draisaitl said of the connection. "Tonight was a night where we had to step up. Obviously it worked in our favour."
The Oilers received the stalwart special teams thats made them the only team in the NHL with a top-five power play and penalty kill this season, going 4-for-6 with the man advantage and a perfect 5-for-5 night shorthanded that extended their kill streak to 15 straight.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who atoned for his self-admitted lack of production in the days leading up to last week's shutout of the New Jersey Devils by being awarded the Harley helmet by his teammates with two assists, made it four goals in his last three games after recording a pair to help put the Avalanche on ice.
But you can't win it twice in a row, as Oscar Klefbom was quick to point out post-game to the media with the helmet on his head when asked about the offence being flexed in front of him.
"It's the only way I can get it," laughed Klefbom, who chipped in with three assists and paired up on the second defensive unit with Caleb Jones in his season debut. "I'm not really surprised they had a lot of points, but it's very impressive."
Goaltender Mike Smith stopped 31 of 33 shots in the opposing crease of Avalanche netminder Adam Werner, who was under constant assault for the Oilers before giving way to Antoine Bibeau in the second frame after recording a 41-save shutout in relief of Pavel Francouz in a 4-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
A crunching hit from Zack Kassian on Nathan MacKinnon set the Avalanche off with a bang in the opening minutes before the Windsor, Ontario product put the final touch on a three-goal first period for the Oilers.
"It was the perfect start for us," Klefbom said. "It gave the team so much energy. We've been talking so much about being ready from the start, and it's tough to play a team like Colorado when you give away the first or second goal and you have to chase."
The Oilers roll into a matinee clash with the Dallas Stars on Saturday in the final game of a two-game home stand.