McDavid and Oilers find other equipment late as Crosby and Penguins fade away

EDMONTON – He was featured as Sidney Crosby against Connor McDavid. And let’s face it: it will always be that way when Edmonton and Pittsburgh meet, until one day Sid hangs them up.

But as the game continued – with Crosby’s season analyzed by a recovery from wrist surgery and a fight with COVID-19 – just wasn’t fair.

On a night when Pittsburgh held the first 40 minutes – but Edmonton exploded in the final quarter – Crosby, 34, also passed out as the game continued while McDavid, 24, brought him up as the teams skated. for the third period tied 2-2. The Penguins dominated the opening 40 minutes enough, but Edmonton turned a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 victory, needing just 20 minutes of domination to come away with two points to put them atop the top of the league. Western Conference with 16-5-0.

If point percentage is your thing, Edmonton’s .762 is officially the best in the NHL.

“It was all about working harder, which I know sounds cliché,” McDavid said. “They brought it to us in the second period and we had to improve our work ethic and put the pucks in the net and good things happened.”

Of his four points on Wednesday – McDavid had three assists and one goal in an empty net, with a plus-five differential – the half came in the third period where Edmonton simply moved away from long-foe Pittsburgh. dated. Crosby closed the game with an assist and a brooding minus four, his energy seeming to wane as McDavid’s increased a notch or two.

“He’s so good at making something out of nothing,” McDavid’s Crosby marveled. “It’s like there’s not a lot of danger and all of a sudden he’s two to one or he has a quick break. It’s a pretty small margin of error and they get a couple two-on-one and execute them well. That’s kind of what it boiled down to.

McDavid fed Zach Hyman and Evan Bouchard on a two-on-one pair, then gave Hyman a one-footed shot into an empty net that looked like his hat trick. However, as the hats rained down from the stands, the replay showed Kailer Yamamoto had been offside, robbing Hyman of his first NHL hat trick.

On Sunday, Hyman was invited to light the Menorah to celebrate the start of Chanukah in Edmonton. On Wednesday, he lit up Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry and could have pulled off his hat trick again when he faced McDavid while Jarry was on the bench.

Alas, McDavid was forced to shoot. He felt like the Grinch afterwards.

“I almost feel guilty for putting him in the net,” McDavid said. “But (Evan) Rodrigues kind of stuck with Hyman and you have to put him away as well. I was obviously trying to put the puck on him, but I just couldn’t find a way.

“He didn’t have a chance to get it for me,” said Hyman, who has scored 11 goals in his first 21 games for his new team. “I told him, put it on, finish the game and we’ll have another one another time.”

Edmonton is in the midst of a blue line crisis, with defenders Darnell Nurse (broken finger), Duncan Keith (back), Slater Koekkoek (ankle) and Cody This (COVID-19) all out of the roster.

That left No.7 D-man Kris Russell, offensive specialist Tyson Barrie and rookie Evan Bouchard as the only regulars against Crosby and the Pens, as well as Bakersfield callbacks Philip Broberg, William Lagesson and Markus Niemelainen, who broke his first NHL game on Wednesday wearing the # 80 jersey.

The Russell-Barrie pair played over 26 minutes and received mixed reviews from head coach Dave Tippett.

“Good and bad,” he said. “I hope we don’t have to do this every night.”

They gave Russell a nice pre-game belt buckle, commemorating his all-time leadership in the NHL for blocked shots. Then they dropped the puck and it was a rodeo in the Oilers’ zone for most of the first 40 minutes.

“We can be better,” said Tippett, whose side are 4-1 since Nurse was injured. “We can be cleaner with the puck and harder with the loose pucks. We were in the third, but I would like to see it for 60 minutes.

He was impressed with Hyman, whose hard work ethic is truly something to see night after night. The mix of skill and determination is a coach’s dream – an example on the ice every night for the rest of the Oilers players.

“We should get a few of our gamers to stop looking at the iPad and start watching Hyman there,” Tippett said. “He’s playing the tough game. We could use more guys like this.


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