Edmonton has the two best scorers in the NHL. When the Oilers combine that with good defence, they are practically unbeatable.
Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists, Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist and Mikko Koskinen made 39 saves to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
“Solid effort,” Draisaitl said.
Kailer Yamamoto also scored for the Oilers, who improved to 17-0-0 when scoring first. Draisaitl and McDavid are tied for the NHL point lead with 77.
“When we play that way, the way that we’ve been playing, that tight checking, teams are going to have a hard time scoring on us,” Draisaitl said.
Koskinen wasn’t really tested in his sixth career shutout, and first since Nov. 8, 2019. But the Oilers netminder did come up with some solid saves, including denying Derick Brassard from close range with 11 minutes remaining and turning away Cam Atkinson’s hard slap shot from the circle with a pad stop a little more than a minute later.
“They had some shots from outside and outside the blue line and all that kind of stuff,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “But when called upon, Mikko ... came up big. I think he’s inspiring a lot of confidence in the group and he made the right save at the right time. Happy for him.”
Draisaitl, who entered the game second in the league with 36 goals, didn’t register a shot in the Oilers’ 2-1 loss at Carolina on Sunday. He made up for that in Tuesday’s first period, notching his 37th with a wrist shot from long range on the power play that went high over Flyers goalie Carter Hart to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead with 2:19 left in the period.
McDavid recorded a secondary assist on the play, giving him 48 assists, and then scored an empty-netter with 1:40 to play for his 29th goal of the season.
Yamamoto increased the lead to 2-0 with 4:50 left in the second period when he poked home a rebound after a scramble in front.
“I thought it was a strong hockey game,” Woodcroft said. “We scored goals in different fashions.”
Philadelphia lost for the 20th time in the last 23 games while falling to 9-19 on home ice. The Flyers dropped to 1-4 during a franchise-record eight-game homestand and were shut out for the fifth time. Hart made 29 saves.
“We didn’t have the A-plus execution, that’s for sure,” interim coach Mike Yeo said.
The Flyers entered averaging 2.5 goals per game, which was fourth-fewest in the league, and its goal differential stands at minus-52 (131-183) after Tuesday’s loss.
“We’re fighting just to win,” Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton said. “It’s been a tough couple months for us.”
Once one of the toughest road arenas in the NHL, Philadelphia’s poor record and lacklustre play for the last three months has neutralized any home-ice advantage. As usual, there were thousands of empty seats – and even a rare wedding proposal was met without much fanfare. The loudest sound of the night might have been the boos that rained down from those who remained as the Flyers skated off the ice.
The scene is sure to be different in the arena Wednesday night when James Harden makes his much-anticipated home debut for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Flyers certainly could use some scoring – and the buzz – that Harden has brought to Philadelphia.
Oilers: C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (upper body) missed his second straight game. … Yamamoto returned to the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s game at Carolina. … Duncan Keith was back on the ice after being sidelined for nine contests due to an upper-body injury suffered on Feb. 9.
Oilers: At Chicago on Thursday.
Flyers: Host Minnesota on Thursday.