Crosby vs McDavid losing steam as Oilers keep demolishing Penguins

Article content

It’s always billed as an epic showdown between two of the greatest hockey players of all time when Edmonton and Pittsburgh meet, but Oilers-Penguins games these days are more like an epic showdown between a mouse and a trap.

Only less merciful.

Article content

The Oilers dragged Pittsburgh’s most recent demise over 60 minutes Sunday, torturing them for three long periods before the final horn put the visitors out of their misery.

Advertisement 2

Article content

The 6-1 thumping is Edmonton’s fifth win in a row over the Penguins by a combined score of 29-9 (6-1, 7-2, 6-3, 5-1 and 5-1).

“I thought we came to play,” said Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl. “Four lines, 60 minutes, Picks (Calvin Pickard) was outstanding when we needed him. It was a really good effort by us.”

Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby are generational talents who are leaving indelible marks on the game, but this series hasn’t even been close lately.

And with the Penguins arriving in Edmonton at 3 a.m. Sunday morning after playing the late game in Calgary Saturday night, it was no contest before the puck even dropped.

It was more like stats night.

Zach Hyman had two goals. Leon Draisaitl had three assists. Calvin Pickard came seven minutes and one fluke goal away from a shutout. Connor McDavid extended his point streak to 11 games. Warren Foegele reached a career high 31 points with his two assists. And Cody Ceci, after scoring just two goals in 186 games, scored his second in the last 11.

“I think we took advantage of a team that had been travelling, played late last night,” said Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch. “Yeah, we had a little travel too, but they’re coming at the end of a road trip and I thought we took advantage of it.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

“We were up one after the first period, but we really built our game. I thought we were strong from the start, we didn’t take any steps back and were able to capitalize on those chances in the second period.”

It was one of those nights when everything went right as Edmonton won its fourth game in a row and solidified second place in the Pacific Division standings. They’ve held their opponents to six goals in the last four games.

“We just played solid,” said defenceman Brett Kulak. “We weren’t overcomplicating things. On their goal it was a kind of a weird bounce over the net and besides that there weren’t any really big breakdowns or anything.

“Everyone was just playing smart collectively, one shift after another, putting together a good game.”

After 4-2, 3-2 and 2-1 wins it was nice not to be in another nail biter that went down to the final buzzer.

“You need those games every once in a while,” said Draisaitl. “But we put a lot of work into creating a game like that. It doesn’t just happen, we put a lot of work into it and did the little things right. Every once in a while a game like that is nice.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

The Oilers had been in a bit of a speed wobble, going 2-3-1 and bleeding goals against, but they’ve tightened things back up and look like they’re trending the right way again.

“I think the break maybe took a little steam out of us,” said Draisaitl. “But a season like this has its ups and downs and we know that. I thought we handled it well and we’re playing well right now and looking to continue it.”

All Pittsburgh can do at this point is tip their hat.

“You have to give their players credit, they have one of the most dynamic rush teams in the league for obvious reasons with some of the people they have and the speed that they have,” said Pens coach Mike Sullivan.

“And they have a dynamic transition game. They’re going to gets some looks. It’s the nature of their game with the team they have. I thought we could have done a little bit of a better job in those instances.

“I just think we got out-played. We just got out-played.”

OUCH

Hyman rubbed a little more salt in the wound of former Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, who is now running the show in Pittsburgh,  by scoring his 41st and 42nd goals of the season. Hyman has a goal in nine straight home games (12 goals in total during that span) and has 10 goals in his last eight games overall. The Leafs let him walk away for nothing.

Advertisement 5

Article content

ON THE MOVE

Ryan McLeod got things going offensively with a goal and an assist in the second period after a stretch of one point in the previous 16 games. He set up Corey Perry on a three-on-one and then scored on the patented Connor McDavid play where he banks a sharp-angle shot off the goalie’s mask and in.

OUCH II

With his team playing the second of back-to-back games and in need of some fresh legs, the Penguins still made former Oiler Jesse Puljujarvi a healthy scratch. He’s played 25 games with Carolina (17) and Pittsburgh (8) since the Oilers traded him away in February 2023 and has yet to score a goal. He’s sat out five of the last seven games for the Penguins and didn’t even get the sympathy start against his old team. Ouch.

E-mail: [email protected]

Article content