Player grades: Big 4, All-Star goalie lead the way as Oilers stretch win streak to 6

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Oilers 4, Canucks 2

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The Edmonton Oilers have been getting plenty of secondary, tertiary and even quaternary scoring recently. On Saturday night in Vancouver, however, it was the club’s Big 4 scorers who did all of the damage in the Oil’s 4-2 victory over the Canucks, stretching their win streak to 6 and moving into third place in the Pacific Division.

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Each of Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored once and combined for 6 assists to account for all 10 scoring points that the visitors registered on the night.

Most of the rank-and-file forwards did their part by sawing off their own minutes with 0 goals scored at either end, never a bad plan when your team is in the lead as the Oilers have been a lot of late. They took the lead for good after just 1:26 when McDavid converted Edmonton’s first shot of the game into his 40th of the season.

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The Canucks were chasing the score for the rest of the night, and to their credit Bruce Boudreau’s club hung in there to make it close down the stretch. The Oil fell asleep to some extent at 3-0, but played a very strong final 15 minutes including 2 excellent penalty kills to close the deal.

Shots in this game were even at 29-29, but the Oilers held the advantage in shot quality. Natural Stat Trick scored it 15-10 in high danger chances for Edmonton, while our own Cult of Hockey analysis had it 18-14 Oil in Grade A shots (running count).

Player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 5. Fired 1 dangerous drives of his own and a couple of shot-passes from the point that led to great chances including an apparent goal by Hyman that was called back for goalie interference. Allegedly. But made a mistake with a 3-0 lead when he got trapped deep in Vancouver territory and didn’t hustle back after the puck turned over. Wham, 3-1 and game on.

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#5 Cody Ceci, 5. Did his share of the heavy lifting, playing 10 minutes of his 15:44 at evens against Canucks top forwards Bo Horvat and J.T. Miller. Oilers won that battle 2-1 at 5v5 and 1-0 at 5v6, resulting in a +2 for Ceci and his partner Nurse at night’s end. He was part of the problem on the 1 against, late to close on Miller whose outside slapper glanced off Ceci on its way to the back of the net. Played as team-high 2:28 on the penalty kill and got the job done.

#10 Derek Ryan, 7. Played 13:35, contributed to 4 Grade A shots, 2 of which came off his own stick from close range. Great shot shares as well. Unlucky to get a goalie interference penalty on a third period breakaway chance, but his mates had his back. 4 shots, 4/8=50% on the faceoff dot.

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#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 7. Played a very energetic 12 minutes, all at evens, during which time Edmonton had 90% (!) of the shot attempts (18 for, 2 against) while seemingly having the perma-cycle set up in Vancouver territory. Chipped in on 3 Grade A shots and landed a team-high 4 hits.

#18 Zack Hyman, 9. On the ice for all 6 goals. A superb night offensively, with primary points on all 4 Edmonton tallies. Made a brilliant stretch pass to send McDavid in alone for the 1-0; finished the 2-0 himself by converting 97’s feed from the edge of the crease; made a fine one-handed pass to Draisaitl for the 3-0; and cleared the puck safely from the d-zone, then forwarded it to RNH for the empty-net breakaway. Had another taken off the board when he was deemed to have made contact with Spencer Martin on an apparent clincher with 5 minutes left, even as the replay seemed to show the puck had already beaten Martin before the contact was made. Cost of doing business for Hyman, who makes his living in the trenches and around the blue paint. Chipped in on 9 Grade A shots in all. Was part of the problem on the 3-1 when he tried to cover for Bouchard but couldn’t make the play.

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#21 Klim Kostin, 6. Relatively quiet night with 1 (decent) shot and 1 hit in 11 minutes. Made a nice pass to Ryan for the breakaway chance. Had some good moments on the cycle. especially when paired with Puljujarvi.

#22 Tyson Barrie, 6. Low event night with 0 points or shot attempts. but best of all 0 mistakes on Vancouver chances. Oilers held an 8-2 advantage in shots on net during his 14 minutes at even strength. Made a nifty play to kick a loose puck out of a dangerous spot and on to a friendly stick.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 7. A workmanlike 25+ minutes on a night no other Oilers d-man even made it to 19. In addition to 12 minutes with Ceci facing the toughs, he played nearly 6 more with Desharnais. Put out a few fires along the way. Had little happening offensively on a night his team led throughout, but bossed the defensive zone, cutting out passes, winning battles along the walls, and standing up for his goaltender when the situation demanded. Excellent on those 2 crucial third-period penalty kills.

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#27 Brett Kulak, 6. He too made a couple of fine defensive stops, including a huge shot block after a Draisaitl turnover in the slot in the dying seconds of the first. Made another splendid stop to tip a dangerous shot into the netting. 3 shot blocks in all, frustrating the dangerous Elias Pettersson on all 3. Played 18 minutes on the night, garnering excellent shot shares (+9/-4 at evens) and helping out on the penalty kill.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 6. Sluggish at times. Had some tough moments, including an ugly own-zone turnover in the dying seconds of the first and a wretched line change in the first minute of the second that yielded a 2-on-1. Kulak saved him the first time, Skinner the second. Made up for that and then some by scoring the game winner, his league-leading 9th of the season, on his only shot of the evening. Won the goal share 1-0 and that was essentially the difference. 10/16=63% on the dot, best of the Oilers.

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#37 Warren Foegele, 4. Chased the game much of the night, with the Oilers getting outshot 10-2 during his 11:36 at even strength. Took a high-sticking penalty with 8 minutes to play which didn’t help the cause. Did have some good moments, winning a few puck battles. Had his third breakaway in 3 games but once again couldn’t find the mark. Can’t say he’s not generating chances.

#55 Dylan Holloway, 5. Flashed his range skills on an extended sequence in which he won a puck battle on the back track, gained possession, cut sharply beside his own net to start the rush up-ice, exited the zone safely, head-manned the disc to McDavid, then busted his tail to take the return pass and feed Ryan on the doorstep for a Grade A chance. Also landed the best hit by any Oiler when he smoked Jack Studnicka, then stood up for himself in the subsequent scrum. A couple of challenging moments on the defensive side of the puck. 0 shot attempts, 3 hits, 1 shot block in 11:36.

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#71 Ryan McLeod, 4. He too was on the short end of the possession game and lost a couple of battles leading to Vancouver chances. 1 shot, 1 giveaway. Did manage a respectable 7/12=58% in the circle and some decent moments transporting the puck.

#73 Vincent Desharnais, 4. In survival mode much of the night, beaten for 4 Grade A shots along the way. But survive he did at 0-0 in goals. Recorded 0 individual stats of any description during his 11:13 of action. Unlike previous games where he got important shifts down the stretch protecting a 1-goal lead, on this night he never saw the ice from 7:00 left until after the empty netter.

#74 Stuart Skinner, 9. Returned to the net after a couple weeks attending to other matters and got right back to business, namely stopping pucks. Made a couple of massive stops in the first minute of the game, another on a wicked Horvat deflection in the last minute, and quite a few in between times as the Canucks fired 14 Grade A shots in all. Was particularly effective with the blocker. Made a great post-to-post stop to thwart a 2-on-1 thrust that seemed a sure goal. Little chance on either goal, an Andrei Kuzmenko breakaway and a J.T. Miller blast that was both screened and deflected. A bonus point for an amazing week in which his first child was born, he was named to the Pacific Division All-Star team, and then played a key role in a victory in his return to action. 29 shots, 27 saves, .931 save percentage.

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#86 Philip Broberg, 5. A bit of a rockier outing, including being rocked by Elias Pettersson after accepting a suicide pass from Skinner. Unable to cut out the 2-on-1 pass on the 3-1 goal. But had some good moments moving the puck and joined the rush on occasion.

#91 Evander Kane, 5. Still finding his legs and more importantly, his hands after a stint on IR. Beat the puck square on one sequence where he first turned it over outside his blueline, then twice failed to clear it from the subsequent chaos. Not a lot of power on his shot just yet. But did muster 7 shot attempts, 4 on goal and a 5th that dinged the post. His usual robust game with 3 hits, and chipped in on the PK.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8. Another superb game from the smooth veteran. Made terrific stretch passes that led directly to odd-man rushes on both the second and third Edmonton goals, officially earning secondary assists on both. Robbed of a clincher with 2:20 to play, he took care of that detail with the late empty-netter.  Contributions to 6 Grade A shots for, 0 against. Also had a good night on the penalty kill.

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#97 Connor McDavid, 7. Did his offensive damage in the first period. Scored his 40th goal of the season to open the scoring. Notably, that occurred in Game #48, making him the fastest to 40 in the current century. Made a great pass to Hyman for the 2-0 minutes later. Continued to threaten, firing a game high 7 shots on net. Also led Oilers forwards in total ice time (23:49), and in each of the 3 disciplines. Very notable was 2:13 on the penalty kill, 47 seconds more than any other forward, in which he performed well. Was part of the problem on the 3-2 when he cleanly lost the draw, then was unable to deal with the screen in front of his own net. Chipped in on 10 Grade A’s for, 2 against. but somehow wound up -1 on the night.

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Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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