June 12th, 2024

McDavid scores twice, Oilers blast reeling Crosby, Pens 7-2

By Will Graves, The Associated Press on February 23, 2023.

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Connor McDavid scored twice to push his total to a career-best 46 goals, and the Edmonton Oilers embarrassed Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-2 on Thursday night.

McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer, beat Tristan Jarry from in close in the first period and then deked past backup Casey DeSmith on a penalty shot late in the third period. The Edmonton star added two assists to boost his point total to 109.

Leon Draisaitl picked up his 35th goal for the Oilers, who improved to 10-1-5 in their last 16 games. Warren Foegele, Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Devin Shore also scored for Edmonton. Stuart Skinner stopped 22 shots but was rarely tested for most of the first two periods.

Kris Letang scored early in the first and late in the third period, but the Penguins were outclassed for long stretches in between. Jarry made 23 saves before being pulled after allowing six goals in two periods in his second start since returning from an upper-body injury that forced him to sit out a month.

Pittsburgh lost its fourth straight and five of six. While there are still seven weeks to go in the regular season, the franchise’s run of 16 consecutive playoff berths – the longest active streak in major North American professional sports – is in jeopardy thanks to a condensed schedule, an older and top-heavy lineup and little wiggle room for general manager Ron Hextall to maneuver.

The fans at PPG Paints Arena that arrived to watch a showdown between Crosby and McDavid were instead treated to a glimpse of how far the gap is between the Penguins and the NHL’s elite at the moment.

Edmonton did whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted for most of the game in the kind of clinic Pittsburgh used to put on with regularity for the better part of two decades.

Those days appear over. The Oilers, led by their superstar who is a heavy favorite to win his third Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player, have the firepower that once came so easily to Crosby and the Penguins.

McDavid set a personal best for goals in a season when he roofed a shot from in tight over a crouching Jarry to tie the game 13:18 into the first. Draisaitl put the Oilers in front later in the period when he banged home a rebound on the power play.

Edmonton was just getting started. The Oilers tacked on four goals in the second against a shaky Jarry, who is still searching for the form he showcased during the first two-plus months of the season before enduring multiple injuries.

For the second time in as many games, Jarry mishandled a puck to set up a goal by the opponent. His botched clear was blocked by Jesse Puljujarvi, who fed it across the ice to a wide-open Shore. Shore ripped a shot by a scrambling Jarry for his first goal since March 17, 2022.

Pittsburgh mustered little response, mostly because the Penguins spent most of the night chasing the younger, faster Oilers. After McDavid spun Letang around to set up Nugent-Hopkins’ 28th goal with 1:06 to go in the second, chants of “Fire Hextall” began.

Things got so bad for the Penguins that a pair of third-period goals that might have generated some momentum were waved off. One because the play began offside. The other because officials ruled Jeff Carter’s deflection came on a high stick.

UP NEXT

Oilers: Visit Columbus on Saturday.

Penguins: Travel to St. Louis on Saturday.

___

AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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