Player grades: McDavid leads way with hat trick as Oilers quench Flames 5-2

Player grades: McDavid leads way with hat trick as Oilers quench Flames 5-2

Author of the article:

Bruce McCurdy  •  Edmonton Journal

Publishing date:

Oct 17, 2021  •  2 days ago  •  7 minute read  •  7 Comments

Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl (29) is stopped by Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) during first period NHL action at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.
Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl (29) is stopped by Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) during first period NHL action at Rogers Place in Edmonton, on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Flames 2, Oilers 5

Calgary Flames turned up the heat on Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, playing a high-pressure, high-event game for most of the 60 minutes, but Mike Smith had the answers at one end of the ice and Connor McDavid at the other. Smith faced 47 shots and allowed just 2 goals, while McDavid fired 8 shots and converted 3 of them.

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Oilers scored first against the early flow-of-play when Derek Ryan converted from the edge of the crease, and that was key as the Flames spent the rest of the night playing catch-up. McDavid connected on a pair of powerplay tallies to to stretch that lead to 3-0. The visitors closed the deficit to 3-2 early in the third, but Jesse Puljujarvi responded on the next shift with a massive goal that gave Edmonton a two-goal cushion and some breathing room the rest of the way. McDavid completed his hat trick into the empty net for the final margin.

Though Calgary dominated possession, officially otushooting Edmonton 47-33 on the night, it was the Oilers who held a 12-9 advantage in Grade A scoring chances , as tracked by David Staples and myself here at the  Cult of Hockey .

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Player grades

#2 Duncan Keith, 6. Solid most of the night, though he lost track of Andrew Mangiapane on the first Calgary goal, leaving the mercurial Flame alone in front for a close-in deflection and the uncontested rebound. 2 shots, 2 blocks, 1 heavy hit, and plenty of smart little plays.

#5 Cody Ceci, 7. For the second game in a row he sprung a teammate for a breakaway with a lovely stretch pass, this time earning an assist when Puljujarvi buried the chance. Made some nice defensive stops at or outside the Oilers blueline by standing up the rush, and made another key denial when he lowered the boom on a Flame trying the wraparound. Went walkabout on the first Flames goal, leaving Keith to battle 2 opponents in front. 3 blocked shots to lead the Oilers.

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#8 Kyle Turris, 4. Played just 5: 03 with little impact. 0 shot attempts, 0/3=0% on the dot.

#10 Derek Ryan, 7. Opened the scoring by going to the front of the net and whacking a puck out of mid-air past Jacob Markstrom. His first official goal as an Oiler, and against his former mates. His line had a solid game at even strength, and he also chipped in 3: 27 on the penalty kill to lead Edmonton forwards. 2 shots, 2 blocks, and a solid 10/15=67% in the faceoff circle.

#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 8. Got an assist on the powerplay, scored a goal at even strength, and added another helper on the empty netter. The goal was particularly timely, coming just 26 seconds after the Flames had closed to 3-2, as J.P. burst into the open to receive Ceci’s stretch pass, sped in, and buried a laser just inside the stick side post. This after first starting the play himself from behind his own net. Played a generally rambunctious game, earning a trip to the penalty box for roughing up Jacob Markstrom and spending plenty of time in the vicinity of the blue paint. He seems to love the Battle of Alberta, having played a number of strong games vs. the Flames last season.

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#18 Zach Hyman, 5. His best moment was an own-zone steal followed by a rink-length breakaway dash where he forced a fine save from Markstrom. That was the best offensive moment for his line, which was quiet after their fine debut on Wednesday. Took an unnecessary penalty for closing his hand on the puck.

#20 Slater Koekkoek, 5. Limited action in his season debut, playing just 9: 17. Played a competent, quiet game for the most part. His standout moment came when he absorbed a heavy hit at the offensive blueline but made the play to get the puck deep.

#22 Tyson Barrie, 4. Played chase for much of the night and was absolutely demolished in all shot shares, e.g. 7 shots for, 18 against in 17 minutes at 5v5.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 7. Another monster game with 27: 35 ice time, putting him at a Pronger-like 59: 59 through 2 games. Had a couple of defensive miscues, notably on the Calgary powerplay goal when he got sucked below the goal line even though his partner was already back there. But more good than bad, as usual. Made a fine cross-ice pass to McDavid to earn the primary assist on the game-winner, then made a key defensive play to start the sequence on the empty-netter. 8 more hits; through 2 games the Oiler blueline as a group has 21 hits and Nurse has 16 of them.

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#29 Leon Draisaitl, 8. Terrific from the outset, bringing a determined two-way game and absorbing a little abuse in the process. Was unable to find the net  on his 5 shots, the best of which involved a dazzling power move around Noah Hanifin and close-in deke that forced Markstrom’s best stop of the night. Did earn 3 assists on the night, 2 of them with excellent passes from his own end of the sheet. Posted an impressive 14/21=67% on the dot, with one of those wins leading directly to the game winner. He also logged a little FOGO (face off, get off) duty on the penalty kill and played a full shift as the only forward on the game’s lone 3v4 situation.

#37 Warren Foegele, 7. His power move in tight to the net set the stage for the Ryan goal, earning Foegele his first point as an Oiler. Found himself on a rare powerplay shift and created traffic and chaos in front that played a role in McDavid’s first tally. Nearly scored himself later, when he made a strong wraparound try. Broke away for another good chance. Stole the puck and drew a penalty. In between times played a hard game in the trenches, running over big Erik Gudbranson at one point.

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#41 Mike Smith, 9. Faced a barrage of rubber all night long, at least 14 shots in every period. Battled through traffic to make many of those saves. Made an early statement when he robbed Andrew Mangiapane on a breakaway. Made 9 stops off of Matthew Tkachuk alone, as the Flames linchpin was at his pestering best on this night. Had a couple of iffy moments handling the puck, including one turnover which forced him to make a paddle stop of Milan Lucic’s centring pass with the net gaping. Little chance on either goal, each of which was scored by an unchecked Flame in the low slot. 47 shots, 45 saves, .957 save percentage.

#42 Brendan Perlini, 4. Played just 6: 22 with little impact. 1 shot.

#44 Zack Kassian, 6. Oilers needed some response to Calgary’s physicality, and got plenty of it from Kassian who led all forwards on both teams with 6 hits. Wisely kept his gloves on when challenged by the gigantic Nikita Zadorov. Earned a nice assist on Ryan’s opening goal with a good cycle pass to Foegele, but was caught out on Calgary’s first goal when he lost a key battle in the sequence.

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#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 5. Earned his team a 4-minute powerplay when he kept his cool against Flames hothead Rasmus Andersson, who from at least one camera angle appeared to headbutt Yamamoto, who came out of it with a bit of blood on his lip and a huge smile underneath it. But later took a pair of penalties of his own through over-aggressive use of his stick, the second of those costing Edmonton on the scoreboard.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 4. Played just 5: 23 with little impact. 0 shot attempts, 1/3=33% on the dot.

#75 Evan Bouchard, 6. Sawed off on a range of shot metrics and more importantly, on the scoreboard, at least at 5v5. Led all Oilers with 4: 08 on the penalty kill, though he did have one bad turnover on that unit that led to a pair of good chances. But had one of his own on the shorthanded unit when he joined the rush, took Ryan’s feed, beat the defender with a toe drag and tested the netminder with a backhand drive.

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#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 5. A quiet game, salvaged somewhat by the assist he drew on the game winner with some customary fine puck movement on the powerplay. At even strength his line got smoked in possession, generating just 1 shot on net (6 against) during his 12: 40 at even strength. A dismal 2/12=16% on the faceoff dot. On the bright side, made 0 mistakes leading to Grade A scoring chances against, taking the edge off those weak shot shares.

#97 Connor McDavid, 9. Fired 8 shots on net and converted 3 of them into goals. His tenth career hat trick and already his third against the Flames, a rival he loves to torment. Now has 26 career goals vs. Calgary, TEN more than any other opponent. He jumped on a fortunate deflection and buried it top shelf to extend Edmonton’s lead to 2-0. The 3-0 tally was more of a designed play, a one-time blast off a Nurse tee, and the first success of a new skill he’s been working hard to perfect. His unmatchable speed was the key component to his third tally, the empty netter that sealed the deal and prompted a barrage of hats on the ice at Rogers Place. Did have a couple of iffy moments defensively but nothing costly. Bottom line: Edmonton’s game-breaker broke open another game.

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Recently at the Cult of Hockey

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STAPLES: Player grades from Oilers 3-2 shootout win over Canucks

McCURDY: Oilers go with “nuclear option” for opening night

STAPLES: Holland urges patience with Keith, Ceci

Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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