McDavid notches hat trick in Game 2 victory over Blackhawks
Buckle up, folks.
Because Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers kicked their best-of-five series against the Blackhawks into an entirely different gear with a 6-3 Game 2 victory in Edmonton on Monday.
The sizzling-fast McDavid showed off his entire repertoire, scoring 3 goals in the first two periods to make sure his Oilers would not be quietly dispatched by the 24th -- and final -- team in this tournament.
The series is now tied at a game a piece, with Game 3 on Wednesday.
The Hawks fought back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to tie the game at 3-3 on goals by Patrick Kane, Slater Koekkoek and Olli Maatta.
McDavid turned the tables, though, when he scored on the power play at 17:10 of the second period, just two minutes after Maatta's seeing-eye shot got past Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen.
Edmonton put the game away with 2 third-period goals in 40 seconds, the first of which came from James Neal after Corey Crawford whiffed on a clearing attempt from behind his own net. Alex Chiasson then made it 6-3 with 11:55 remaining.
"McDavid's obviously a focus for us," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "When we're not making things hard enough for them offensively, we get ourselves in spots where we end up taking penalties. You know what happens on the power play -- a guy like McDavid's gonna make you pay.
"A couple times early in the game we're giving him Grade A chances, and he's not making any mistakes. We know what we're going to get out of him every game, so we've got to be better."
The first period featured wild end-to-end action in the first 10 minutes that left commentators, players and fans alike gasping for breath.
McDavid scored just 19 seconds in by batting at a bouncing puck over Crawford's left shoulder.
McDavid scored again less than four minutes later with an incredible individual effort. The Oilers' superstar picked up the puck at center ice, exploded into the offensive zone, motored past Maatta and lifted another shot over Crawford's shoulder to make it 2-0.
"Not the start we wanted, without question," Hawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "You have a chance to maybe continue the frustration that they may have been feeling going into the game, and right away they're feeling good and feel they're turning it around.
"Their top players are feeling confident, and then it's an uphill battle. Some of our guys were really good and they allowed us to stay in the game, but not enough of them."
Kane cut the lead in half at 9:06 off a gorgeous pass from Alex DeBrincat.
The second period featured a combined 6 power plays, with 4 going to the Hawks. Three of the Oilers' infractions came in near succession, and coach Dave Tippett's selfless squad was up to the task, blocking 5 high-velocity shots in 55 seconds at one point.
"It hurts us when we're not scoring those goals," said Kirby Dach, who had 2 assists. "(Those) are critical times in the game when we could've tied it up. "We have to find a way to get our shots through."
Edmonton had 22 blocked shots to the Hawks' 14.
John Quenneville replaced Drake Caggiula in the Hawks' lineup after Caggiula was suspended for a hit Tyler Ennis' head in Game 1. Quenneville saw just five minutes of ice time as Colliton elected to double shift Patrick Kane (22:42, 5 SOG) much of the game.
"We're always a better team when we're rolling four lines," Kane said. "As a player, you want to play as much as possible, but we're a team that needs everyone going. ...
"Drake's a big part of our lineup (and) we missed him tonight. He brings a physical edge to his game and likes to mix it up so we'll welcome that back in Game 3."
The Hawks will be the home team in that contest, meaning Colliton gets the last change. But it will hardly matter if the Hawks don't adjust to what happened in Game 2.
"We didn't have enough," Colliton said. "We weren't able to string shifts together. It very rarely happened where we were able to get 30, 40 seconds in the offensive zone to build on.
"(When you get that), you draw a penalty, you score a goal or you start to wear them down. It's protecting the puck, it's being clean when you have time to make a play. ...
"We'll respond. It's a 1-1 series, I'm sure no one picked us to sweep 'em. They won a game now we have to find a way to be better on Wednesday. And we will."