Player grades: Led by McDavid's 6 assists, Oilers outscore mistakes, Red Wings

Article content

Red Wings 4, Oilers 8

It was ’80s Night at Rogers Place on Tuesday night, as Edmonton Oilers returned to their roots and won a hockey game the old-fashioned way: by outscoring their mistakes. After weeks of button-down hockey, this game against Detroit Red Wings was the polar opposite, featuring odd-man rushes galore and Grade A shots by the score. By the time the dust settled, the Oilers had taken command with a 5-goal third period that lifted them to a decisive 8-4 scoreline.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

That score is a lot more convincing than was the game itself. The Oilers had plenty of trouble handling Detroit’s speed on the counter attack, and the penalty kill had an awful time of things for the third game in a row. In truth, the home side was fortunate to be tied through 40 minutes.

But that’s when Connor McDavid took command. The superstar pivot joined Wayne Gretzky (who did it a remarkable 10 times!), Jari Kurri, Mark Messier and Shawn Horcoff in the club record book by scoring 4 assists in a period. He also tied his own career high with 6 points on the evening — all assists.

Detroit carried the play for large parts of this one, ultimately outshooting the Oilers 38-36. Our analysis at the Cult of Hockey (running count) also had Detroit with its nose in front in both Grade A Shots (20-17) and 5-alarm chances (9-8). Stu Skinner earned his keep on this night despite the 4 GA.

Player grades

Cult of Hockey game grades player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 8. Delivered his best offensive game in quite some time, and did it all at 5v5 given the fact the Oilers had 0 powerplays on the night. Scored the 3-1 goal, converting RNH’s pass from the slot. Set up the critical 4-3 tally, first with a terrific stretch pass to kick off the rush, then by joining the play and firing a shot slot that Holloway tapped home on the rebound. Earned his third point of the night with a secondary assist on the ultimate game winner.  Let the Oilers with 5 shots and 8 attempts, while posting stellar underlying shot shares (19-8 Oilers during his 19 even-strength minutes). A couple of iffy moments defensively but the good far outweighed the bad. Contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS): Even Strength +8/-3; Special Teams +0/-0.

Advertisement 3

Article content

#5 Cody Ceci, 6. Had a big night offensively, tallying his 200th career point (and delivering an ace flyby screen) on Draisaitl’s goal, then scoring his first goal in 16 long months on a point shot through traffic to double the early lead. His 126-game goal drought had been the longest in the NHL, but it’s over. Had a few issues on the defensive side of the puck. Among those beaten on the second Detroit powerplay goal, and on the visitors’ late consolation goal as well. 3 hits. GAS: ES +2/-3; ST +0/-3.

#10 Derek Ryan, 4. Not his night. Lost 4 of 4 draws on the penalty kill, with the first 2 of those ultimately leading to Detroit goals against his unit. During his nearly 10 minutes at even strength, the Oilers mustered just 1 shot. Did have a couple of takeaways. GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +0/-3.

#14 Mattias Ekholm, 6. Spent chunks of the game bending but not breaking. Overall his pairing with Bouchard was successful at moving the puck north. Spent a couple nervous minutes in the sin bin midway in the third, but his mates finally came up with a successful kill to maintain the 5-3 lead.  4 shots, 2 hits. GAS: ES +2/-1; ST +0/-0.

Article content

Advertisement 4

Article content

#18 Zach Hyman, 7. Good, not great, though his dazzling +5 on the night might suggest otherwise. Robbed by the shaft of Alex Lyon’s stick in the dying seconds of the first. Managed to solve the Detroit stopper from the doorstep to make it 6-3 in the third. GAS: ES +3/-1.

Nurse

#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. High-event night for the big rearguard, who earned a couple of assists in a team-high 23:13. Made a great sliding play to break up a Red Wings 2-on-1 rush, and put out a few other fires along the way including a dangerous one created by a Skinner turnover. Burned on the second Wings powerplay tally when he allowed Daniel Sprong a path to the blue paint. GAS: ES +1/-3; ST +0/-3.

#27 Brett Kulak, 6. Not exactly neat and tidy, but tell that to the nifty +3 he posted on the night. An awful pinch led to yet another of Detroit’s numerous odd man rushes in the middle frame. GAS: ES +1/-2; ST +0/-0.

#28 Connor Brown, 4. A weak turnover inside Detroit’s blueline with Edmonton leading 3-1 resulted in a jail break and ultimately a costly penalty by a teammate. Oilers mustered just 2 shots on net (4 against) during his 11 minutes at even strength. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +0/-0.

Advertisement 5

Article content

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 6. Opened the scoring with a slot shot through a double screen. Added an assist on Hyman’s tally, intercepting a wayward clearing pass and feeding the sniper on the doorstep. His line had its struggles defensively, especially on an early second period shift that saw the Red Wings continuously buzz the tower. Took a somewhat lame and certainly costly interference penalty when Lucas Raymond reversed his path right into him. GAS: ES +4/-4; ST +0/-0.

#37 Warren Foegele, 4. Won a board battle early in the sequence that eventually resulted in Ceci’s goal. Generally struggled to handle the puck, or to get it behind Detroit defenders. Had a careless d-zone turnover early in the third that resulted in an in-zone breakaway. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +0/-0.

#55 Dylan Holloway, 7. Delivered the game’s decisive moment in the opening minute of the third when he dove full-length to get a stick on Bouchard’s rebound and tap it into the open cage to put Edmonton back in front 4-3. Promoted thereafter to the Draisaitl line after largely spinning his wheels on a marginally effective third line with Foegele and McLeod. Co-led the team with 3 hits. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +0/-0.

Advertisement 6

Article content

#71 Ryan McLeod, 5. His line had little going offensively, but didn’t give up much either until the very late going when Mcleod’s turnover started the sequence of pain on Detroit’s final goal. 8/10=80% on the faceoff dot. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +0/-0.

#73 Vincent Desharnais, 5. Burned by a pair of brilliant Patrick Kane passes within seconds on the same penalty kill, the second of them converted by Alex DeBrincat to put the Wings on the board. Otherwise quiet in both ends of the sheet. GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-2.

Skinner

#74 Stu Skinner, 7. Lit up for 4 goals but it could have been much worse, as attested by 20 Grade A shots against. Was left to his own devices in the second period especially, in which his teammates were constantly playing chase and not successfully at that. Delivered a number of stellar stops from close range. Kept his team in the hunt long enough for them to eventually take charge. Was visibly frustrated when the fourth goal found the range late, but it wasn’t on him. 38 shots, 34 saves, .895 save percentage.

#89 Sam Gagner, 4. Inserted into the line-up for some secondary offence but didn’t provide a whole lot of that. Was in the sin bin for all of 10 seconds for a tripping infraction that quickly resulted in the 3-2. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +0/-0.

Advertisement 7

Article content

#90 Corey Perry, 4. By far his least effective game to date, where his lack of foot speed was a noticeable detriment. His best moment by far was a terrific screen on Draisaitl’s opening goal. Had a few issues in the d-zone. GAS: ES +1/-5; ST +0/-0.

#91 Evander Kane, 6. Strange game in which the Oilers “won” his part of it by 3 goals to 0, even as they were outshot over those 15+ minutes by 17 to 9. Scored his 19th of the season by going to the net with his stick on the ice and not being shocked by McDavid’s spectacular pass on his tape. GAS: ES +2/-2; ST +0/-0.

RNH

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. Hard to quibble with boxcars of 2-1-3, +3. Made a splendid centring pass to Bouchard for the 3-1. Scored the 5-3 and eventual game winner with a terrific wrist shot from the slot, hitting his favourite spot above the pad and just inside the stick side post. Added the final insult with a goal off his skate that may well not have survived video review had the Red Wings chosen to challenge, but by that point (2 minutes left, the game hopelessly lost) they probably just wanted to get out of Dodge. Was also part of the first unit PK that was burned for a pair of goals, and had a bad turnover on the 3-3 which was caused in part by some unplanned contact with Hyman along the side boards. 3 shots, 3 hits. GAS: ES +8/-1; ST +0/-2.

Advertisement 8

Article content

#97 Connor McDavid, 9. Another brilliant performance with 0-6-6, +6. Among them, career assist #600, making McDavid the fourth fastest to ever reach the mark behind only 20th Century legends Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr. Contributed to a whopping 11 Grade A shots in a number of ways, none of which were shots off his own stick. We attributed no fewer than 5 of those to won battles, another to a hard charge to the net front away from the puck, 4 more to passes. Whatever he did, the puck kept winding up in the net with #97 involved in the scoring play somehow. The most exhilarating was the double-spin move he put on poor Moritz Seider before setting up Kane on the doorstep with an inch-perfect backhand feed. He schooled Seider in particular throughout the game. A couple of defensive issues, including a lost battle on the 3-3, knocks his grade down a single notch. GAS: ES +11/-2; ST +0/-0.

Recently at the Cult of Hockey

STAPLES: Rumours swirl around Broberg again

STAPLES: Failed experiment on defence? 

McCURDY: Why not go with Gagner?

STAPLES: Player grades vs Kings

McCURDY: Player grades in win over Ducks

LEAVINS: Player grades vs Vegas

Article content