EDMONTON — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his first goal of the playoffs and also had an assist for the Edmonton Oilers in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights to square their series at two wins apiece.
Nick Bjugstad, Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm were Edmonton’s other goal scorers. Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner made 25 saves for the win.
After they were held off the scoresheet in Game 3, Edmonton captain Connor McDavid had a pair of assists and Leon Draisaitl had one.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven Pacific Division final is Friday in Las Vegas.
The series returns to Edmonton for Sunday’s Game 6. If required, Game 7 would be Tuesday in Vegas.
Nicolas Roy scored the Golden Knights’ lone goal in the third period.
Vegas goalie Adin Hill stopped 29 shots in his first NHL playoff start, after playing minutes in the two previous games of the series.
The Golden Knights took the first game 6-4 and the Oilers the second 5-1 in Las Vegas.
The Knights rebounded with a 5-1 victory in Game 3 at Rogers Place, so Edmonton earned a split at home.
Golden Knights defenceman Alex Pietrangelo took a major and a game misconduct with less than two minutes remaining.
After Draisaitl shot wide of an empty net, Pietrangelo slashed the Oiler across the arms.
Roy chipped the puck upstairs over Skinner’s glove at 5:58 of the third period for his first goal of the playoffs.
Of Edmonton’s trio of 100-plus-point men in the regular season alongside McDavid and Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins had yet to score a goal after nine playoff games.
So he was elated to beat Hill with a wrist shot from the slot on a McDavid feed from the boards, which made it 4-0 at 14:45 of the second period.
The Oilers killed off consecutive penalties midway through the second period. Zach Hyman took a cross-checking minor and Skinner was penalized for playing the puck outside the trapezoid.
Pietrangelo rang a shot off the crossbar during the Knights’ second man advantage.
Edmonton led 3-0 by 13:30 of the opening period. Ekholm scored his first of the playoffs with a blast from the top of the faceoff circle to beat Hill far side.
Vegas captain Mark Stone trailed that play in pain after he went down by Edmonton’s net. Stone missed 39 regular-season games after back surgery, but returned for the playoffs.
With Knights defenceman Shea Theodore serving a slashing minor, Bouchard earned his fourth power-play goal of the playoffs at 7:38.
McDavid, from behind the goal line, fed Bouchard for a one-time slapper.
Edmonton’s power play didn’t produce at quite the cracking 56-per-cent-pace it had been during the playoffs, going 1-for-6, but the Oilers scored a series-high three even-strength goals.
Edmonton also held the Golden Knights scoreless on four power-play chances.
Bjugstad, coming off Edmonton’s bench, forced a Theodore turnover in the offensive zone.
When Klim Kostin missed the net, Bjugstad collected the puck behind the goal line and banked a backhand off Hill’s leg at 6:46.
Hyman didn’t skate Tuesday or Wednesday morning, but he played Wednesday night.
His leg collided with Knights defenceman Nicolas Hague’s during Monday’s game, and Hyman finished that game in discomfort.
Mattias Janmark also returned to Edmonton’s lineup after falling backwards into the boards in Game 1.
NEXT GOALIE UP: Vegas started five different goalies during the regular season because of injury. That trend continued into the playoffs.
Laurent Brossoit started eight straight playoff games. He was replaced by Hill in the first period of Game 3 because of what appeared to be a left-leg injury.
Hill stopped all 25 shots he faced over the remaining 48 minutes in the Knights’ 5-1 win.
Vegas head coach Bruce Cassidy said before Wednesday’s game he wouldn’t know how long Brossoit would be sidelined until the team returns to Vegas.
Jonathan Quick, acquired at the NHL deadline, drew in at backup behind Hill, with Jiri Patera the third-stringer.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2023.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press