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Vegas Golden Knights push Oilers to brink of playoff elimination with 4-3 win

LAS VEGAS — Jack Eichel scored a goal and had two assists for the Vegas Golden Knights in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers to take a 3-2 lead in their playoff series.

Reilly Smith, Mark Stone and Nicolas Hague also scored for Vegas, which scored three times in a span of one minute and nine seconds in the second period. 

Jonathan Marchessault had three assists for the Knights and goaltender Adin Hill made 31 saves for the win.

Connor McDavid scored twice for the Oilers, who head home to Edmonton needing a win in Sunday’s Game 6 to avoid elimination.

If required, a Game 7 would be Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Zach Hyman scored a goal and had an assist for Edmonton. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and defenceman Evan Bouchard each had two assists

Stuart Skinner was replaced by Jack Campbell after the Golden Knights scored four goals on 23 shots. Skinner was pulled in the second period for the second time in three games. 

Campbell stopped all nine shots he faced the rest of the game.

The Oilers are the last Canadian NHL club in contention for a Stanley Cup this year because the Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated in Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers. 

It’s been 30 years since a Canadian club lifted the trophy. The Montreal Canadiens won it in 1993.

Edmonton scored three power-play goals on four chances, while the Knights went 2-for-5 on Friday.

Trailing 2-1, the Golden Knights scored their fastest three playoff goals in their six-year history starting at 14:03 of the second period. 

A pair of power-play goals in a 29-second span and an even-strength goal a minute later gave the hosts a 3-2 lead heading into the third.

The Oilers had four and a half minutes of power-play time to start the third because of Keegan Kolesar’s major and game misconduct for shoving Mattias Ekholm face-first into the corner boards with 23 seconds remaining in the second.

McDavid scored his second power-play goal of the game and seventh goal of the playoffs skating through three gold jerseys and tapping in his own rebound at 3:40.

McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer in the regular season, was nominated Friday for the Hart Trophy, which he won in both 2021 and 2017.

The Golden Knights’ chance at an extended man-advantage in the third — Warren Foegele’s double minor for high-sticking Shea Theodore — was reduced by Eichel’s roughing minor 67 seconds after Foegele went to the box.

Campbell was pulled for an extra attacker with two minutes remaining in regulation, but the Oilers couldn’t produce an equalizer.

Hague threaded a shot from the blue line through traffic to the top corner of Edmonton’s net at 15:34 of the second period, when Skinner’s night ended.

The puck deflected off McDavid’s skate towards the Edmonton net and Smith swept it by Skinner at 14:32. 

Vegas scored a five-on-three goal at 14:03 when Stone reached across Skinner and wrapped the puck around the Edmonton goalie’s far pad.

Both of Edmonton’s first-period power-play goals were scored on rebounds off Ryan-Nugent Hopkins shots. The puck deflected off Hyman standing on the Knights’ doorstep at 9:56. 

McDavid scored at 3:02 rifling a rebound high on Hill. Vegas countered just 50 seconds later when Eichel pounced on a loose puck at the edge of the crease and made the most of half an open net.

The Oilers challenged for goaltender interference with the belief that Eichel had shoved Edmonton defenceman Vincent Desharnais into Skinner, but lost the challenge for a subsequent Vegas power play.

NOTES: With 15 power-play points Edmonton’s Evan Bouchard (four goals, 11 assists) was tied for third all-time for most power-play points by a defenceman in a single post-season with Denis Potvin (15 in 1981), behind Al MacInnis (23 in 1989), Ray Bourque (17 in 1991) … Eichel tied a Golden Knights franchise record for the most goals in the first 10 games of the playoffs with his sixth Friday.

SUSPENSIONS: The Oilers were minus defenceman Darnell Nurse because of his one-game suspension for instigating a fight in the final minute of Wednesday’s Game 3. 

The Knights were without defenceman Alex Pietrangelo also serving a one-game suspension for slashing Leon Draisaitl late in Wednesday’s game.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May12, 2023.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press