Surpassing 100 points was made all that much sweeter for Leon Draisaitl by the important two points the Edmonton Oilers earned along with it on Saturday.
Draisaitl had two goals and an assist to give him 102 points on the season as the Oilers came away with a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in a game between a pair of injury-riddled teams hungry for playoff points.
“Obviously I’m excited about it,” Draisaitl said of being the first player in the NHL to hit the century mark this season. “It’s a special milestone for me, but that’s over now, now it’s about making the playoffs.”
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins put away the winner with 5:16 remaining and assisted on both of Draisaitl’s goals as the Oilers (34-23-8) snapped a two-game losing skid. Edmonton moved ahead of the Canucks in the Pacific Division after Vancouver lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 earlier in the night.
“It’s outstanding how fast he reached it this year,” Nugent-Hopkins said of Draisaitl eclipsing the 100-point plateau. “It’s pretty crazy. His offence is obvious, how good he is at making plays, but his defence over the last stretch has been so solid, too. Inside he’s pretty proud. He should be. It’s a huge milestone.”
Logan Shaw and Kyle Connor replied for the Jets (33-28-6), who have gone 1-3-1 in their last five outings. Winnipeg has the same number of points as Nashville but the Predators have three games in hand to hold down the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
“It doesn’t matter how you play, you’ve got to get results this time of year,” said Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler. “We’re in a position where we’re tied with five minutes left in the game, we can’t leave with zero. You just can’t do it.”
Connor McDavid sent a backhand pass through the crease to Draisaitl, who banked his 38th goal of the season off of Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck and in at the 6:27 mark of the opening period.
It was Draisaitl’s league-leading 100th point of the campaign, becoming the first German-born player and seventh player in Oilers franchise history to hit the century mark in consecutive seasons.
“He is just a beast out there, in all situations too, it’s not just power play, it’s penalty kill and faceoffs,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. “He is playing really well right now.”
The Jets controlled the pace in the second period and were rewarded 13 minutes in when Shaw was sprung on a breakaway and beat Oilers goalie Mike Smith.
Just 44 seconds later, Wheeler made a nice move to set up Connor for his 33rd goal of the season and 100th of his career.
Draisaitl deflected home a McDavid shot on a power play with 13 seconds left in the second period to tie it up 2-2.
The Oilers surged back in front with five minutes to play in the third as Draisaitl fed it to Nugent-Hopkins and he picked the corner for his 19th.
Winnipeg had intense pressure with their goalie pulled for the final couple minutes, but Smith was solid to preserve the win, ending up with 38 saves.
The Oilers embark on a three-game road trip in Nashville on Monday, while the Jets begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday against Buffalo.