Teams don’t score five goals in one period very often. Leon Draisaitl found a way to make the night even more memorable.
The NHL’s scoring leader had the first four-goal game of his career and added an assist as the Edmonton Oilers beat the Nashville Predators 8-3 on Monday to sweep the season series.
“I don’t need to beat around the bush,” Draisaitl said. “When you score four goals, you feel good. You feel good about yourself, you feel good about your linemates. Obviously, they made some great plays to me tonight and made it pretty easy for me.”
Connor McDavid scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and had four assists. Kailer Yamamoto and Josh Archibald each had a goal and an assist, and Zack Kassian also scored as Edmonton won its second straight.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Darnell Nurse had three assists apiece.
Nashville had dominated Edmonton lately, including 13 straight wins between 2014 and 2018. These aren’t those Oilers, though. Edmonton is second in the Pacific Division and pulled within two points of first-place Vegas with a game in hand.
Edmonton broke open a tie game by scoring three of its five goals in the third in a span of 2:21. McDavid put the Oilers ahead to stay at 4:42, then Draisaitl made it 4-2 just 35 seconds later with his 41st of the season. Kassian finished the flurry at 7:03.
“Those nights don’t happen all the time,” Draisaitl said. “Sometimes, just pucks bounce your way a little bit and you capitalize on them. Capitalizing on chances that we maybe didn’t throughout the year, so a couple of bounces. Connor got us going with a big goal, so big one for us.”
Oilers coach Dave Tippett said his team went into the third determined to play a solid period after allowing Nashville to tie the score twice.
“Connor got the one that kind of opened the floodgates for us, then we capitalized on some more chances,” Tippett said.
Draisaitl got his hat trick at 8:28. Then he chased Pekka Rinne from the goalie’s first start since Feb. 21 with his 43rd goal of the season at 9:55 of the third.
It was the first time Rinne, the 2018 Vezina Trophy winner, had allowed eight goals in a game. Nashville captain Roman Josi said the Predators left Rinne “out to dry” in the third, and coach John Hynes, hired Jan. 7, said Nashville had no emotion and was lackadaisical in the third.
“We got punched in the face today pretty good and certainly got what we deserved,” Hynes said.
Josi and Calle Jarnkrok scored 14 seconds apart, and Nick Bonino also had a goal for Nashville. The Predators remain in the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference thanks to two games in hand on Winnipeg and Arizona, with all three at 72 points.
This was the first of a three-game road swing for Edmonton, and the NHL’s highest-scoring team scored twice in the first period.
Archibald scored from in front off a pass from Tyler Ennis with an assist from McDavid. Draisaitl started his scoring spree with his 40th goal with 28.8 seconds left, beating Rinne with a snap shot from an awkward angle at the edge of the right circle. Draisaitl also became the seventh Edmonton player with multiple 40-goal seasons, joining McDavid and Paul Coffey on a list headed up by Wayne Gretzky.
The Predators tied it within the first three minutes of the second. Josi scored his career-best 16th goal on a slap shot from the top of the left circle at 2:14, then Jarnkrok scored from in front off a turnover at 2:28.
Yamamoto, back after missing three games with an injured ankle, put Edmonton up 3-2 at 13:34 off a nice pass from Nugent-Hopkins. But then Bonino tied it again, lifting the puck over goalie Mike Smith’s right leg off a rebound at 15:05.