ESPN News Services3 minutes to read
BUFFALO, NY — Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice to bring his NHL-leading goal total to 54 and scored a career-high 124 points during a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabers Monday night.
McDavid continued to prove his possession of winning his third Hart Trophy for MVP in eight seasons with his 12th MVP game of the season, helping the Oilers to two pivotal spots in the Western Conference playoff race.
“The end was universal,” Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said of McDavid’s quick go-ahead goal beating Craig Anderson by two legs 3:23 into the third period, less than two minutes after the Sabers tied the game. The game is on 2.
McDavid averaged 124 points in 65 games, more than his career best 80 scored in 80 games last year, and the All-Star center extended his point streak to 11 games, during which he scored 12 goals and 15 assists.
“I saw someone who was competitive from the start,” Woodcroft said. “Connor is at a different developmental stage in his game now, and I think everyone saw that here tonight.”
The Eastern Conference city crowd who don’t often get to see McDavid in person seemed to have gotten their money’s worth, even though the hometown Sabers fell short of two points in their battle for a berth.
“Who is more likely to make a big play than him?” said teammate Zach Hyman. “He’s the best player in the world, and he pushes his own limits. He’s been driving the bus for a long time and just keeps getting better.”
Derek Ryan scored as well, and Stewart Skinner stopped 37 shots for the Oilers, who improved to 5-4-3 in the past 12 and rebounded from a 7-5 loss to Winnipeg on Saturday.
Jeff Skinner and Dylan Cousins scored for the Seavers, and Anderson stopped 34 shots.
Down to 6-4 in the last 10, Buffalo continued their season-long home struggles losing five out of seven.
Buffalo (32-26-4) is in the midst of the NHL’s worst drought in 11 seasons, but is still in the mix and has games on hand in most of its competition. The day began with four points separating the seventh-ranked New York Islanders and ninth-ranked Buffalo, who were tied in a four-way tie with the two teams at 68 points.
Earlier today, Sabers coach Don Granato declined to say whether he considered McDavid a step above everyone else in the league out of respect for his young stars. After that, Granato had no choice but to pay tribute to the Oilers captain, who scored two goals on three shots at the net.
“He’s over 50 for some reason, he doesn’t need much [shots]Granato said. “He’s done that with a lot of teams and goalkeepers, and he’s been prepared for his chances. That’s what makes him special.”
The Oilers (35-22-8) moved into a tie with Seattle for third place in the Pacific Division.
After opening the scoring in the first period, McDavid scored the go-ahead early in the third period, shortly after the Cozens tied the game.
Warren Foegele drove left wing to gain Sabers territory and then spun to hit McDavid with a pitch that cut through the middle. McDavid swerved to his left to get defender Jacob Bryson and put a shot through Anderson’s legs.
It was McDowid’s ninth goal of the season, after starting the day tied four for second and one behind teammate Leon Drisettel.
McDavid and the Oilers will next take on the NHL’s best—Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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