It was one of those games that was a shame to see decided by a shootout, as both the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers seemed to already be playing playoff-level hockey.
Nathan MacKinnon scored the shootout winner and had his team’s lone goal in regulation as the Avalanche won their sixth straight, getting past the Oilers 2-1 on Saturday.
Darcy Kuemper made 49 saves for the Avalanche (52-14-6) who are 11-1-1 in their last 13 games and tied a franchise record with their 52nd win of the season.
“It’s always nice to end it with a save and it’s a great feeling getting the win,” Kuemper said, “We know we have a special group in here and it’s been a really fun season getting that many wins, but our ultimate goal is still ahead of us here.”
Warren Foegele replied for the Oilers (42-25-6) who saw a six-game winning streak halted, as well as a run of nine consecutive wins on home ice.
“I saw everybody lay it on the line and compete at a very high level,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “We got an important point out of that game, though obviously we wanted two. We lost the skills competition in the shootout. We had chances to win that game and I am proud of the effort that our players put forth. It was a playoff-like feel to that game.”
Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who saw a 15-game point streak come to an end, agreed that it felt like a post-season tilt.
“It was a playoff style game,” he said. “Not a ton of chances going either way and I liked how we stuck with it and hung in there against a good team and found a way to get a point.”
There was no scoring in the first period, although Colorado hit three posts behind Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen, including shots from Cale Makar and Bowen Byram.
Meanwhile, Kuemper had to make a huge first-period glove save on Jesse Puljujarvi.
The game remained without a goal through a tense first 40 minutes, with Edmonton outshooting its opponents 26-16 heading into the third period.
Edmonton finally broke the deadlock 5:24 into the third frame as Foegele deflected a long-range shot from Darnell Nurse past Kuemper. The Oilers entered the game with a 25-2-0 record when scoring first.
Colorado tied the game with 5:07 remaining in the third as a shot caromed off of Valeri Nichushkin in front to MacKinnon, who sent a backhand shot home for his 26th.
Koskinen made a couple key saves on a late Avalanche power play to send the game to extra time.
Kuemper then made a few massive saves of his own on a rare overtime power play for the Oilers, setting up the shootout. Edmonton outshot Colorado 11-0 in the OT session.
“I thought he was great, especially on the power play at the end of the game, it’s a big moment,” Avs head coach Jared Bender said of his goaltender. “That and the shootout, I thought he was outstanding right from the start. He had a great start to the game and he carried that through the night, he was tough to beat. I thought their guy was pretty good, too.”
The Oilers embark on a brief two-game trip starting in Minnesota against the Wild on Tuesday. The Avalanche return home to start a four-game homestead against the L.A. Kings on Wednesday.