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Maple Leafs report cards: Mitch Marner keys comeback, Noel Acciari scores twice – The Athletic



John Tavares is many things, and a liar is not one of them. The Leafs’ captain chose to focus on the “exciting” elements of taking on Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers ahead of the matchup … he wasn’t wrong.

This game had it all. Goals, scrums, saves, a lack of saves, hits, and questionable officiating. Even when the Leafs were losing, the game felt like it had an extra layer of intensity to it. Playoff-like even, and that had nothing to do with the lack of calls in the third period. The goaltending wasn’t where the team needed it to be but it was good enough for how Toronto played offensively and defensively, and the Leafs found a way to win.

When it was time to take the game by the horns and run with it, the core four was there to answer the call in a 7-4 victory on Saturday. Oh, and so was Noel Acciari.


On to the reports.

First Star 

Mitch Marner 

Give Marner a magic wand and a Superman cape. Not only did he trigger the comeback in the second period, but he did so in his own dynamic way with defence on his mind first. Marner used his stick to break up the pass then proceeded to make 10,000 moves on Stuart Skinner in an eighth of a second to make it 3-2.

Seconds later, he broke up another pass attempt to find William Nylander ahead of the game-tying goal. Another primary assist from the late-period power play brought his night total to three. Marner always seems to hit a fifth gear in games like these, where the focus is on Auston Matthews and McDavid.

And when you thought Marner was done making his defensive stick plays, he came up with another one late in the third period after coming out of the penalty box. Four points on the scoreboard but 1,000 points on the leadership board for Marner tonight.

Second Star 

John Tavares 

One of two Leafs to hit the 30-goal mark on the night, the captain walked away with two tallies.

Both of the goals were close and personal on Skinner, getting opportunities first from a Matthews feed and then following a loose puck on the power play.

Tavares could’ve had three if a between-the-legs attempt wasn’t stopped on the power play. He instead had to settle for a bump pass assist to Matthews.

Third Star 

Noel Acciari

I can’t remember a time when the Leafs had a fourth-line centre this impactful on a game-by-game basis. I’d say this about his performance tonight without the goal he scored. He is the spoon that stirs that line’s drink. They’re heavier, work the boards better and support each other positionally. Acciari, especially, is either the first one on the puck or in a supporting role to keep it moving and swing it back to the point ahead of a reset. Additionally, Acciari keeps the opposition honest and on their toes while having the speed to overwhelm other players on the rush, with or without a helmet on. Then there’s the finishing.

On his first goal of the game, Acciari followed up on the rebound chance from Zach Aston-Reese and beat Skinner. His second was a well-earned empty-net goal.

Player Reports:


Auston Matthews

Tonight was all about the head-to-head against McDavid for Matthews, so much so that both coaches played them against each other for the majority of the game. They saw the most time against each other, took penalties against each other, and both found the back of the net. Matthews in a down year (he writes sarcastically) finally hit the 30-goal mark as his third-period tally made it 6-3 for the Leafs.

Matthews had an extra step on McDavid in the offensive zone, along the boards and below the red line. Matthews outworked McDavid in those tight areas, which led to a number of chances that looked as if they were coming out of nowhere. Matthews had moments of grabbing loose pucks and firing them at the net, or blitzes that turned into a random wraparound.

Matthews’ game wasn’t only centred around what he did against McDavid. He had some tosses with Darnell Nurse as well. Tavares’ first goal of the night doesn’t happen if not for Matthews lifting Nurse’s stick in the neutral zone, preventing Nurse from getting the puck.

Jake McCabe

If you were not a diehard McCabe fan before tonight’s game, this one has the most evidence for why you should be. He just does everything right. He’s so steady around the net and lets players play in the neutral zone. I’m surprised his play on Leon Draisaitl on the penalty kill didn’t get an isolated shot. McCabe kept him far right and then dropped, taking away all the space and using his body to stop the pass attempt.

When the puck was in the Leafs’ zone, McCabe and TJ Brodie did a great job of calmly corraling it, taking any force the Oilers tried to dish out and getting the puck out of their end. And as if defending plays isn’t enough, McCabe lets you know there’s a cost for getting too close to the net or trying to mess with his defence partners.


William Nylander 

Nylander was all over the puck in the opening two periods, whether he was lined up with Tavares or Sam Lafferty. He used his speed to circle the zone, drive the net and close the gap on pass attempts. With his 34th of the season, Nylander tied his total from last year.

TJ Brodie 

The pairing of Brodie and McCabe is the shutdown pair Toronto has been looking for. In McCabe, Brodie has someone who, like him, thinks defence first. I was a big fan of Brodie’s tie-ups Saturday, either by shutting down individual players (such as McDavid) or clearing lanes for goaltender Matt Murray, allowing him to get an open look on shot attempts.


Mark Giordano 

The veteran had strong gaps on advancing players. Also, his read to stop the pass to McDavid late in the game was the definition of clutch.

David Kämpf 

Kämpf’s patented, “throw the puck back to the slot and see what happens,” paid off once again as it led to scoring chances for Aston-Reese and Acciari. Despite not being an offensive-minder player, he’s quietly put together a run of seven points in his last 10 games. I’m looking forward to seeing what this fourth line can do long term. Kämpf has the strength to win board battles and the awareness to peel off and grab loose pucks to make plays. He can continue to put numbers up if he gets more reps with players who can convert on chances.

Erik Gustafsson

We haven’t yet seen the power-play production from him that we thought we would, though I still thought Gustafsson was steady, especially when playing with Giordano.

Timothy Liljegren

The Vincent Desharnais headlock may be something people focus on and use as justification for why Liljegren can’t play in the playoffs (or even his tripping penalty, for that matter). Nevertheless, Liljegren is a very solid option to have in the top six. And I thought he was a good option to have out there on the penalty kill.


Morgan Rielly 

The Oilers nearly got the scoring started earlier than the Mattias Ekholm goal after Rielly was late on an assignment while Liljegren was with his guy by the net. Later on, Rielly had some chances to get the offence going, almost picking the corner on Skinner and sending Matthews in on a chance four-on-four.


Zach Aston-Reese

This line and this role works for Aston-Reese. He’s the first one on pucks and does a great job holding the opposition off along the boards. There was a moment when Aston-Reese had two Oilers and the puck pinned and instead of joining in as well, Kämpf floated back making himself available to get the puck and continue the cycle. This is where Aston-Reese can thrive, by doing the annoying work.

Justin Holl

Many played the “whose fault is it?” game on the Evander Kane goal. Murray played his part in it, but Holl could’ve played that a whole lot better. It looked as if he tried to cover both options, fending off the two-on-one of McDavid and Kane. He kept his distance, extending his stick toward McDavid and pivoted over to Kane once the pass was made. Yes, if Murray isn’t stuck, he makes the save and there’s no goal, but I’d like to see Holl actively commit to taking on one of those options. Either get in McDavid’s space or anticipate the pass and don’t even let it become a scoring chance.


Sam Lafferty

You definitely want Nylander carrying the puck into the zone as much as possible, though I liked the times Lafferty used his speed to break in on his own. Unfortunately, he shoulders responsibility on that Ekholm goal. You can see Jarnkrok gesturing to Lafferty to cover the right side of the ice as he drifted over way too much, leaving Ekholm a wide-open lane to skate in and shoot on Murray.

Michael Bunting 

I really wasn’t a fan of Bunting’s effort on the backcheck ahead of McDavid’s goal. Both Brodie and McCabe had their players tied up, yet No. 97 had a clear lane to the net without any disturbance from behind. At least he made up for it on the entertainment part of the game. Officials just seem to love him nowadays.

Calle Järnkrok

Järnkrok didn’t get a shot on goal despite getting 2:39 of power-play time. That’s puzzling and a bit frustrating considering the speed of his release. I do wonder if Jarnkrok is trying to get closer to the net on his chances. Although he didn’t fire the puck on Skinner, he had a few dash attempts to the crease.


Alex Kerfoot 

He made the right moves without the puck but had some puzzling moments with it. The piles of chances without a goal speaks for itself, but when on the ice defending a lead, Kerfoot went for a between-the-legs no-look pass, which was immediately picked off.


Matt Murray

At the 17-minute mark of the second period, the Leafs had allowed three goals on 10 shots. Murray made that game far closer than it should’ve been. That’s not to say the Oilers don’t have weapons. However, the goals Murray allowed were anchors for the team and luckily they were able to overcome it. The Ekholm goal came at the cost of a defensive blunder in the Leafs’ end, but Murray was beaten clean over the shoulder. I’m also willing to cut him slack on the McDavid goal. However, with a one-goal game you need a save there instead of getting beat five-hole. The Kane goal is a horrible misplay on his end.

It looked as if his skate was tied up on the right, leaving a lot of space for the wraparound goal. Draisaitl’s goal in the third was similar. Not a wraparound, though Murray’s pad wasn’t secure against the left post and was instead a backboard for the puck. Murray’s third period saved him from getting an F. His glove save on Draisaitl, the one-on-one against McDavid and the left pad save on Zach Hyman were all solid stops.

Game Score 

Final grade: A

Now, this was a hockey game. The Leafs were down 3-1 in the second and, remembering they’re one of the highest-scoring teams in the middle frame, went on to score three goals in three minutes to take the lead. Marner, Nylander, Tavares and Matthews, the core four, stepped up to the plate and hit home run after home run. The team, overall, made it pretty uncomfortable for Skinner. A lot of their best looks were right in front of him. In fact, the Leafs had very few shot attempts from the perimeter. They took the puck to the dangerous areas and made use of those quick defence-to-offence transitions.

The big wart has to be the goaltending. Murray got the win after allowing four goals on 26 shots. The blunders didn’t even stop when the Leafs were in the lead, as Draisaitl’s 42nd of the year wasn’t highlight-worthy. If you’re using individual performances as means of deciding who gets the start Game 1 of the playoffs, this isn’t going to bode well for Murray.

What’s next for the Leafs? 

There are serious stakes in the Leafs’ next game Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet) as their homestand continues. Not so much for the blue and white, as they’re in a playoff spot already. The Buffalo Sabres, on the other hand, are desperate to catch one of those wild-card teams. That should make for an interesting match. Maybe Acciari will get the hat trick this time.

(Photo: Cole Burston / The Canadian Press via AP)

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Edmonton Oilers deliver a statement performance in a 2-0 shutout of L.A.: Cult of Hockey Player Grade



The Edmonton Oilers turned in a hard, grinding, effective effort against the rival L.A. Kings on the way to the club’s 1st shutout of the season.

The game’s 1st Star was Stuart Skinner, who absolutely sparkled with 43 saves. He was exceptional. At the other end, markers from Evander Kane and Connor McDavid (his 300th career goal) was all the Oilers needed.

The regulation win pulls Edmonton into 2nd place, one ahead of L.A. in the Pacific (the Kings with a game in hand), and just 2 points back of Vegas for the conference lead. The Golden Knights lost to San Jose 4-3 in OT, earning a single point.


Here is the tale of the tape…

Cult of Hockey Player Grades

STUART SKINNER. 10. The biggest game in Stuart Skinner’s young career and he nailed it. 43 stops for the club’s 1st shutout of the season. Skinner made a point-blank stop on Kaliyev early in the 1st. A fine right pad stuff on Byfield. A terrific glove save on Kempe who had split the D in the 2nd and darted in with a dangerous deke. Confidently managed a Byfield back-hand. Erased a turnover with a great save off Kupari. He finished off the 2nd by stoning Lizotte with his glove on a breakaway. Big 3rd period stop off Kempe’s stick on the PP. Needed to be sharp on a Byfield deflection in front. Slammed the door shut down the stretch including a terrific toe save on Gavrikov late. His 10 wins in March sets a franchise record. Named the game’s 1st Star. We do not hand out “transcendent” grades lightly at The Cult of Hockey. But the quality of Skinner’s work multiplied by the significance of the game in the standings adds up to a “10”. And if you remember back to the circumstances of last year…one assumes Skinner will not get farmed out to Bakersfield after this shutout.

CONNOR McDAVID. 7. Whistled for an early boarding call on Mikey Anderson but his mates killed it off. Anderson did not return. An uncharacteristic turnover in his own zone in the 1st led to a chance against. Set up Hyman for a 2nd Period one-timer. Then, a takeaway in his own zone on the PK…McDavid sprinting up the ice (beating 2 Kings along the way), a flurry of stickhandles and finally a sharp shot low stick to make it 2-0. It was his 61st of McDavid’s season, the 300th of his brilliant career. Slick feed from behind the net but Nugent-Hopkins could not finish the one-timer. 54% in the circle. The game ‘s 2nd star. The 1st player in NHL history to have five point streaks of 10 games or more in a season.

RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS. 7. Tough play at his own blueline to clear the zone on the 1st period PK. Sweet pass to Draisaitl for a PP one timer. Just missed cashing in on a rebound of a Bouchard shot in the 3rd. One-timer off a McDavid behind-the-net pass in the 3rd. Led the team in 5v5 CF at 22-13, 63%.

ZACH HYMAN. 6. Could not bury a one-timer in the 2nd off a McDavid feed. 5 shots. Played an honest, heavy game.

DARNELL NURSE. 8. Darnell Nurse’s finest defensive effort of the season. Repeatedly used his speed to win races and his size to win battles. Nurse stood up Kempe in the neutral zone early on. An excellent defensive play on a driving Kopitar in the 1st. Another fine effort against Arvidsson in the 2nd. And expertly headed off a Moore net drive a few shifts later. Ended the night with 3 shots, 2 hits, 2 blocks in 23:32. Flat out excellent, shift-in and shift-out, and the Kings’ best.

CODY CECI. 7. Nice setup for a dangerous Foegele chance in the 1st. Solid play on Byfield who was driving the Oilers net in the 2nd. Failed to get a puck deep at the O-line, allowing the Kings to run it back and get a shot against. A 3rd Period wraparound attempt. Solid. His game has improved noticeably over the last half dozen outings.

LEON DRAISAITL. 8. Smart stick on a 1st period PK. Neutral zone steal. Buried Doughty with a heavy check into the wall. Then put Gavrikov right on his pants with a thudding check. And to close out the period, Leon slung a no-look, spin-around backhand to Evander Kane in the slot who buried it for the 1-0. What a play! That was 29’s 70th helper of the year. Was stoned by a great pad on a Power Play one-timer in the 2nd. Sent a seeing-eye pass across the crease to a hard-charging Ekholm, to draw a late 2nd frame PP. A tidy pass across to Kane for a 3rd period opportunity. Led all Oilers in TOI at 23:45. Has really hit his stride.

EVANDER KANE. 8. Came out aggressive from the first shift, landing 7 (!) hits just in the first 20 minutes. His thump on Roy along the wall was particularly memorable. Took a slick back-hand feed from Draisaitl in the high slot and 1-timed it home high for the 1-0. Stopped on an Oilers 2-man break in the 2nd. Finished with 8 hits, 5 shots. Looked like he was on a mission. His goal proved to be the game winner. Played 20:25 and I thought he was the Oilers best Forward. That two excellent games back-to-back, now.

KAILER YAMAMOTO. 7. Gained the O-zone with speed then fed Draisaitl, earning an assist on the 1-0. Solid hit on Doughty in the 3rd. A highly effective 2:02 short-handed.

MATTIAS EKHOLM. 8. Blocked shot on a 1st Period PK. A 2nd Period stretch pass sprung Ryan and Kane on a clear break. Did not give an inch to Moore who would have had a chance in front. 2 hits, 3 blocks, 2 takeaways. Cleared the slot while flat on the ice, late. Just rock solid.

EVAN BOUCHARD. 7. An icing led to 3 Kings shots against after the ensuing D-zone faceoff. But it was one of very few off-moments for the young man tonight. Fired one off the post late in the 2nd on the PP. Could not cash in on an excellent 3rd Period shot. As physical as I have seen him play…ever. Credited with 4 hits.

NICK BJUGSTAD. 4. Dinged the post in the 1st after Doughty’s stick exploded beside his own net. Nabbed for a 3rd Period trip. Just 23 on faceoffs and crushed in shot shares 5v5 (9-15, 38%).

WARREN FOEGELE. 5. A good chance in the 1st off a Ceci pass. Ticked the post off a nice pass from Janmark. 2 shots.

MATTIAS JANMARK. 6. A wraparound attempt in the opening frame. Set up Foegele for a 2nd Period chance. His aggressive forecheck on the PK helped create the McDavid breakaway opportunity. No assist but the goa does not get scored without him.

BRETT KULAK. 6. Drew a 2nd Period PP. Took an interference call in the 2nd. High Dangers 4-1 with him on 5v5.

VINCENT DESHARNAIS. 6. Pretty iffy cross-check call in the 2nd. 2 hits, 2 blocks. High dangers 5v5 4-1.

DEREK RYAN. 5. Blocked shot on a 1st period PK. He and Kane teamed up with a net drive in the 2nd. 67% on draws.

KLIM KOSTIN. 5. Wraparound attempt in the 2nd, then buried Doughty with a heavy check.

PHILIP BROBERG. 5. Played just 4:05. Took shifts on both sides. 2 shots and a block.

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane are only the 2nd trio of teammates to score their 300th career goals in the same season. Last time, it was Clarke, Barber and MacLeish for the Flyers in 1981.

The Oilers are now 44-23-9, 97 points. They host Anaheim Saturday.


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How to Get Started with Sports Betting in Ontario



Sports Betting in Ontario

Sports betting is a popular pastime in Ontario, and luckily it’s also easy to get started with. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced bettor, the process of placing bets can be done quickly and easily.

The best sportsbooks in Ontario

Ontario has a wide variety of options for sports betting, ranging from online bookmakers to land-based casinos. Some of the most popular sportsbooks in Ontario include BetMGM, BetRivers and Unibet. All three offer a great selection of markets and competitive odds on all major sporting events. For those looking for an even more immersive experience, there are also several land-based casinos that offer sports betting services. These include Casino Niagara, Fallsview Casino Resort, and Caesars Windsor. Each casino offers its own unique atmosphere and range of betting options for customers to choose from.

Overview of sports betting regulations in Ontario

Sports betting regulations in Ontario are governed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The AGCO is responsible for regulating all gaming activities, including sports betting, in the province. According to the AGCO, sports betting can only be conducted through a licensed operator or at an authorized racetrack. All operators must obtain a license from the AGCO before they can offer any type of sports betting services. In addition, all operators must comply with certain rules and regulations set out by the AGCO. These include ensuring that all bets are placed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, as well as providing customers with accurate information about their bets. Furthermore, operators must ensure that they have adequate security measures in place to protect customer funds and personal information. They must also adhere to strict advertising guidelines set out by the AGCO to ensure that their promotions do not encourage irresponsible gambling behaviour.

Understanding odds and different types of bets

When it comes to understanding odds and different types of bets, the most important thing to remember is that the higher the odds, the greater the potential payout. Odds are expressed in a variety of ways, such as fractions (e.g. 3/1), decimals (e.g. 4.00) or American style (e.g +300). The type of bet you make will also determine your potential payout; for example, a single bet on one outcome will have lower odds than an accumulator bet on multiple outcomes but with a higher potential return if all selections win. There are many different types of bets available including straight bets, parlays, teasers and futures which can be used to increase your chances of winning or reduce your risk depending on how you choose to place them.


Sports you can bet on in Ontario

In Ontario, you can bet on a variety of sports, including hockey, baseball, basketball, football, soccer, golf and tennis. You can also bet on horse racing and harness racing at the racetracks in the province. You can place bets on international sports such as cricket and rugby. There are also several online betting sites that offer betting options for all major sports leagues around the world. These sites allow you to place bets from anywhere in Ontario with an internet connection. The only thing you need to do is create an account and fund it with money. In same cases, you will be able to recieve a no-deposit bonus so you can start betting right away. Other bonuses and promotions you can use to your advantage include welcome bonuses, loyalty programs and other rewards.

To get started with sports betting in Ontario, you’ll need to find a reputable online sportsbook that offers the best odds and lines. Once you have chosen one, sign up for an account and make sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before making any deposits or placing any bets.

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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Kings – Edmonton




EDMONTON, AB – Their history against one another sets the stage, while their potential for another post-season series fuels the animosity.

“There are no surprises here,” Connor McDavid said. “Obviously it’s a big one for us tonight.”

Following their first-round matchup in last season’s playoffs and two regular-season meetings this season, both going the way of the Black & White, the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings conclude their regular-season series with an all-important Pacific Division matchup on Thursday at Rogers Place that could be a preview of another first-round matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the two rivals.


“We’re quite aware of what we’re up against and they have a clear understanding of what they’re up against,” Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said. “Both teams are different than they were in last year’s playoffs. We have different personnel. Both teams have evolved in certain ways, so tonight should be a good matchup.”

The Oilers were pushed to the brink by the Kings in their first-round seven-game series last season, staving off elimination in Games 6 and 7 before winning the Battle of Alberta in the second round and advancing all the way to the Western Conference Final.

The Kings re-tooled in the summer, adding elite winger Kevin Fiala on a seven-year contract from the Minnesota Wild while extending some important pieces to their future in Sean Durzi (two years, $1.7 million), Carl Grundstrom ( two years, $1.3 million), Adrian Kempe (four years, $5.5 million) and Brendan Lemieux (one year, $1.35 million) for another season of growth in the City of Angels.

Los Angeles earned a 3-1 win at Rogers Place in Edmonton earlier this campaign on Nov. 16 before a spirited but sobering 6-3 defeat for the Oilers at Arena on Jan. 9 marked a turning point for the Blue & Orange early in the new year after they fell to the second Wild Card spot with the loss and nine points back of the Kings 42 games into the regular season.

The Oilers struggled on the penalty kill, with the Kings scoring four power-play goals on seven opportunities with the man advantage, while the physicality between the two teams ramped up in the latter stages of the game with a trio of fights.

Video: PRE-RAW | Connor McDavid 03.30.23

“I thought I saw a lot of teammates stick up for each other. I’ve saw a lot of teammates answer the bell and up their physical ante, and I thought it brought us together,” Woodcroft said.

“I think our record since that point speaks for itself.”

Since their January defeat to the Kings, the Oilers own the best points percentage (.758) in the NHL with a 22-5-6 record while LA has been the toast of the League since the All-Star break with a 15-3-3 record despite their franchise-best point streak of 12 games coming to an end on Tuesday with a 2-1 defeat to Calgary.

“I think since post-Christmas our team is really going in the right direction, but that game certainly provided us with an opportunity to come together and I thought we did. We’ll see tonight where we’re at.”

Video: PRE-RAW | Connor McDavid 03.30.23

Thursday will offer a glimpse at what both these two teams at full strength can bring to a potential first-round playoff series.

“Certainly they’re different. They’re healthier,” McDavid said. “They added some pieces, a new goalie and they’re definitely different. As for us, I think we’re just a little bit older, a little more experienced and I think we’re better too.”

The Oilers will have Mattias Ekholm, Evander Kane, Vincent Desharnais and Nick Bjugstad in the lineup to contribute to the lineup this time around, while the Kings bolstered their ranks at the Trade Deadline with Vladislav Gavrikov on the back end and Joonas Korpisalo in between the pipes.

“I thought up until about the Trade Deadline, LA was one of the highest-scoring teams in the League and gave up a lot of goals,” Woodcroft said. “So what they’ve done here over since the All-Star break is they’ve tightened the screws defensively.”

With a victory, Edmonton can jump over the Kings into second place in the Pacific Division while pulling themselves within a point of the lead held by the Golden Knights.

“Certainly more at stake here tonight than any other regular season game, so certainly easy to get up for.”


The 300th goal of Evander Kane’s career on Tuesday night provided the cushion the Oilers needed in a tight one-goal game against the Vegas Golden Knights with six-and-a-half minutes remaining in the second period.

The forward finished Leon Draisaitl’s feed off a zone entry emphatically, shaking the twine in an eventual 7-4 victory for the Oilers with his first goal in five games since recording a hat-trick on Mar. 18 in Seattle. Kane has five goals and an assist in the 10 games since he returned from a nine-game injury absence on Mar. 9 against the Bruins.

The Oilers can feel like more of a complete team with Kane in the lineup after the 31-year-old wasn’t an option for Edmonton during their last meeting with Los Angeles at the turn of the new year.

Video: PRE-RAW | Mattias Ekholm 03.30.23

“Probably just more physical, bigger, faster — all the things that his game is all about,” McDavid said. “He plays with a lot of pace. He’s a big, strong guy. He gets on the forecheck hard and I wouldn’t want to be a D going back to retrieve pucks with him out there.”

Kane’s tally against the Golden Knights was one of four even-strength goals for the Oilers as they continue to get healthy and grow their game in advance of the playoffs with well-rounded scoring at five-on-five and on the power play.

“We’ve gotten healthier, so you’re starting to see the full complement of what we have,” Woodcroft said. “We’re still not yet at full health, but when you return someone like Evander Kane… I think you’re seeing people slotted into the proper batting order up front and it gives the coaching staff more options, allows for easier accountability when it comes to performance and those types of things.”


Netminder Stuart Skinner occupied the starter’s net at the morning skate and is the Oilers projected starter to face the Kings for Thursday’s important Pacific Division tilt.

Skinner matched Mike Smith (April ’22), Tommy Salo (March ’03), Grant Fuhr (Dec. ’87) and Andy Moog (Jan. ’83) for the most wins in a calendar month by an Oilers goaltender with his ninth win in March on Tuesday against the Golden Knights. The 24-year-old already surpassed Fuhr’s record for most wins by an Oilers rookie netminder rookie season (28) and is working towards beating the Hall of Famer’s single-season rookie record of 28 wins, already 24-14-5 this campaign.

“Coming in as a young guy and then becoming an All-Star, that’s the progression, right?” Zach Hyman said of Skinner. “I don’t know how many people had Stu as an All-Star on their ballot when the season started, but I think that’s credit to him and just working at his craft and just getting better every day. He deserves it.”

“He’s been playing amazing, and we’re lucky to have him.”

Video: PRE-RAW | Zach Hyman 03.30.23

— Jamie Umbach,


STREAM: 7:00 p.m. MT; televised on Sportsnet West

Oilers Team Scope

The Oilers enter Thursday night’s contest fresh off one of their most impressive performances of the season against the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Edmonton picked up the 7-4 win over the Pacific Division rivals, dominating the division leaders for large stretches of the contest. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a goal and added four assists to extend his point streak to nine games and bring his season total to 96 (35G, 61A) on the year.

The teams traded offence in the first period, with goals from Nugent-Hopkins, Evan Bouchard, and Leon Draisaitl negating a pair of Vegas goals from Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson. It was the second period where the Oilers turned up the heat on the Nevada side, outshooting the Golden Knights 21-6 and outscoring them 3-1 in the middle frame. Darnell Nurse notched his 10th of the year, giving the Oilers 12 double-digit goalscorers this season. Evander Kane finished off an incredible feed by Draisaitl, who undressed the Vegas defender before sliding the puck over to the Oilers sniper for goal 14 of Kane’s season.

Hyman notched the final goal of the frame, finishing off a Nugent-Hopkins feed for his 33rd of the year. The Oilers chased Golden Knights starter Jonathan Quick from the crease after two period, scoring six times on 34 shots against the former Kings goaltender.

Brett Kulak added the Oilers lone third period goal, firing a shot off the post and in after coming out of the penalty box to cap off the scoring for the Blue & Orange. Stuart Skinner won his 24th game of the season, making 18 saves on the night, and bringing the Oilers within three points of the Western Conference lead.

“I think a lot of people in this crowd right here might have wrote the Oilers off when it comes to where we’re going to finish,” Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said after the game. “As you hear me say every single day, we try to take it one at a time. We’re going to get on our plane, get back to Edmonton, have a good rest day tomorrow, and make sure we’re ready for a really good Los Angeles Kings team. We know what we’re up against in them. We want to show well against a really good team and the points will take care of themselves. We just want to get our game in order.”

Kings Team Scope

The Los Angeles Kings head up the road to Edmonton after a 2-1 defeat to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night. The loss ended a 12-game point streak for the Kings and allowed the Oilers to draw within a single point of the California club.

Defenceman Sean Durzi scored the Kings only goal of the evening, his eighth goal and 37 point of his so-far career-best campaign.

The Flames saw goals by Andrew Mangiapane and Walker Duehr, while Jacob Markstrom made 32 of 33 saves to pick up the win. In goal for the Kings was Joonas Korpisalo, who was acquired at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Jonathan Quick to Columbus (before being swiftly dealt to Vegas) and has been stellar since the move. The Finn is 4-1-1 as a member of the Kings, with his lone regulation loss coming in his 30-save performancer against the Flames.

“On our behalf there wasn’t a lot of zone time, yet we had some really good scoring chances, long chances that had us looking at Markstrom, and he made some really good saves,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said after the game. “At the other end, we spent too much time in our end, and I thought our game management for the first time in a long time was poor.”

By The Numbers

The Oilers come in to Thursday’s contest with a 7-0-1 record in their last eight, with 40 goals for during that stretch… In the Oilers eight-game point streak, their power play has operated at 42.3 per cent… If the season were to end today, the Oilers would set the NHL’s all-time record for power-play efficiency at 32.7 per cent… Edmonton has earned at least a point in 28 of their last 33 games, with a 22-5-6 record and a .758 points percentage… The Oilers have recorded at least a point in 14 of their last 15 home games… Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Leon Draisaitl all enter Thursday’s contest with a point streak of at least nine games…

The Kings 12-game point streak which was snapped in Calgary was the longest in franchise history, breaking the record of 11 games set on three different occasions… The Oilers and Kings have the two best point percentages in the month of March, with only three regulation losses between the two teams… Los Angeles penalty kill has been a weakness for Todd McLellan’s team lately, allowing a PPG against in their last five games… The Kings have allowed a PPG in 47 of their 74 games this year… Los Angeles has been involved in 36 one-goal games this season, the third most in the NHL….

Injury Report

OILERS – Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) is on IR; Mike Smith (undisclosed) is on IR; Ryan Murray  (undisclosed) is on IR; Ryan McLeod  (undisclosed) is day-to-day.

KINGS – Akil Thomas (undisclosed) is on IR; Gabriel Vilardi (undisclosed) is day-to-day.

— Michael Arcuri,


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