LOS ANGELES (AP) — Leon Draisaitl and the Edmonton Oilers’ power play continue to operate at peak efficiency.
The Oilers scored twice with the man advantage, including Draisaitl’s go-ahead score with 7:20 left as Edmonton vaulted into second place in the Pacific Division with a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night in a pivotal game for playoff seeding.
“The core group of guys have been there for a long time. And it’s pretty cool to be part of a power play like that,” Edmonton star Connor McDavid said about the special teams. “It’s not about how many you score but when you score and we got two big ones tonight.”
The win not only put the Oilers one point ahead of the Kings, it extended their winning streak to five and gave them 100 points for the second straight season. The last time Edmonton reached the century mark in back-to-back seasons was 1987 under a different points structure.
The Oilers beat the Kings for the second time in six days after Los Angeles won the first two meetings this season. The teams are on course to possibly meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the second straight year. Edmonton had home ice in last year’s series and won in seven games.
“I thought it was a good game for our team. It was a patient game and not a lot of room on the ice,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcock said. “We found a way to win, which is a good sign for our group.”
Draisaitl, who also had two assists, extended his points streak to 13 games with 10 goals and 27 points during that span.
Draisaitl had the go-ahead score on a power play when he put in a rebound past Pheonix Copley in front of Los Angeles’ net. It was Draisaitl’s 51st goal of the season and his league-leading 31st on the power play.
Edmonton leads the league with a 32.7% success rate on the power play, the highest by a team since 1977-78.
“I thought we probably weren’t as clean as you’d want to be on the first couple but we stuck with it, trusted ourselves and the process,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who also had a power-play goal. “Just the ability that we can step up and get one when you need to.”
Los Angeles’ Viktor Arvidsson, who tied it 1 and snapped a 171:58 shutout streak by the Oilers, was called for the penalty that resulted in Edmonton’s deciding goal.
“Our special teams have to be better against theirs. This game was very reminiscent to the one in Edmonton. We got more to the net in Edmonton, probably had more scoring chances in Edmonton. But the team that scores first has a huge advantage,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. “Here our penalty kill did a pretty good job, but both of their goals were on clearing attempts that we weren’t successful, and 32 or 35% power plays make you play for that, and they did tonight.”
Darnell Nurse also scored for the Oilers while Stuart Skinner stopped 20 shots. Copley made 30 saves for the Kings.
With the Oilers on their third power play, Nugent-Hopkins got the pass from Draisaitl, skated into the left faceoff circle and snapped a shot under Copley’s arm on his glove side at 11:30 of the second period. It was Nugent-Hopkins’ 36th goal.
It also gave Nugent-Hopkins 15 goals with the man advantage. According to the NHL, the Oilers are the first team to have at least four players with 15 power-play goals in a season.
Arvidsson evened it at 10:26 of the third with a one-timer from the point off the pass from Trevor Moore for his 25th.
Nurse put it away with an empty-net goal for his 12th and fourth in the last five games.
LACK OF SHOTS
There were five combined shots on goal in the first period, which was tied for the fewest since 2015-16 according to Sportradar. The last time it happened was Pittsburgh vs. Vancouver on Dec. 21, 2019.
The Kings had three shots in the first 20 minutes, which was the fifth time since 2015-16 they had three or fewer. The Oilers had two shots, which was the third time in the last eight seasons that happened.
Oilers: At Anaheim on Wednesday night.
Kings: At Vegas on Thursday night.
Joe Reedy, The Associated Press