Oilers in playoff mode while Ducks finish out season
The Edmonton Oilers are showing they can win in a variety of ways, a recent trait that should provide them a boost heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Oilers will carry a nine-game point streak into their matchup against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night.
The Oilers (44-23-9, 97 points) beat the visiting Los Angeles Kings 2-0 on Thursday night to overtake them for second place in the Pacific Division and pull within two points of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights.
Two days earlier, Edmonton outscored the Golden Knights in a 7-4 win in Las Vegas.
"Good thing for our team is we're learning how to win different types of games," Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. "If you were to compare the game in Las Vegas, compared to (Thursday) night's game, two completely different games. The most important thing is we found a way. At this time of year, that's all that's important."
The superstars for Edmonton also continue to perform at a meteoric level.
Connor McDavid scored on a short-handed breakaway against the Kings to extend his point streak to 10 games (seven goals, 13 assists).
Leon Draisaitl had the primary assist on the other goal by Evander Kane to extend his point streak to 11 games (six goals, 15 assists).
"I thought that was a really good message to send, not only to them, but to everyone, that we can play that patient game and win," said McDavid, who leads the NHL with 61 goals, which is 17 more than the career high he set last season.
The return of Kane has also been a major boost for the Oilers.
He missed 2 1/2 months earlier this season after sustaining a deep gash on his wrist with a skate blade, and then missed another three weeks with a rib injury.
In the 11 games since his latest return, Kane has six goals, hitting the back of the net twice in the past two games.
"Kaner's game is rounding into form right now," Woodcroft said. "He's always been known as a big-game player, and these last two he's shown the level that he can play at. The good news is there's not a lot of miles on that chassis this year. He's just kind of rounding into form and at the right time of the year, and we need him."
The Ducks (23-42-10, 56 points) haven't been putting up much of a fight in recent games and seem to be counting down to the end of another disappointing season.
Anaheim has lost six in a row, getting outscored 15-5 in the past three.
Making things more difficult, the Ducks could be without their top two point scorers against the Oilers.
Trevor Zegras sustained a lower-body injury in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Colorado Avalanche on Monday and did not play in the 4-1 loss at the Seattle Kraken on Thursday.
Troy Terry is not on the three-game road trip because his wife, Dani, is expecting their first child.
Ducks coach Dallas Eakins, however, continues to be pleased with the team's demeanor.
"I've been so proud of this group during an adverse year," Eakins said. "We've bent a few times but never broken. They continue to have great attitudes. We just have some amazing young men here."
This article was originally posted on Reuters on March 31, 2023.
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