McDavid Nets Hat Trick as Oilers Even Series 1-1 with Blackhawks

After a surprisingly dominant Game 1 win by the Blackhawks on Saturday, it was Edmonton’s turn to come out swinging.

Connor McDavid kicked off the scoring for the Oilers with two quick strikes less than five minutes into the game, including on his very first shift. Rookie defenseman Adam Boqvist would leave McDavid wide-open for his first goal, while veteran defenseman Olli Maatta was victimized by a strong power-move on McDavid’s second goal.

Down 2-0 and following a critical penalty kill by Chicago, Patrick Kane would cut the deficit in half off a nice feed from Alex Debrincat. Head coach Jeremy Colliton would double-shift Kane much of the game with Drake Caggiula serving a one-game suspension for a high-hit on Tyler Ennis in Game 1.

Edmonton would regain their two-goal cushion early in the second when Tyler Ennis would capitalize off an Alex Nylander turnover in the neutral zone. Ennis wristed a shot from the blue-line past goalie Corey Crawford, who was screened on the play by his own defenseman in Calvin de Haan.

The Blackhawks would rally back in a see-saw second period with a pair of goals from defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Olli Maatta, tying the game at 3-3 before Edmonton would take control for good.

With rookie Kirby Dach in the penalty box for tripping, McDavid would complete his first career playoff hat trick with a fluky power play goal, deflecting a shot off of Duncan Keith’s skate for a 4-3 Oiler lead.

The wheels would completely fall off for the Blackhawks just over seven minutes into the third period, when Corey Crawford left his net to play a loose puck below the goal line. Crawford failed to corral the puck along the back-boards, gifting Oiler forward James Neal with an empty-net goal. Less than a minute later, Alex Chiasson would extend the lead 6-3 after a strong rush from Neal while the Hawks were in the middle of a line change. Neal bullied the puck past defenseman Adam Boqvist, drawing three Hawk defenders to the front of the net while Chiasson was left wide open.

Goalie Mikko Koskinen started the game for Edmonton in place of Mike Smith, who had been pulled midway through Game 1. John Quenneville made his playoff debut in place Drake Caggiula, totaling 6:04 of time on ice. In addition to Kane (1 goal, 1 assist), Alex Debrincat (2 assists, +3), Slater Koekkoek (1 goal, 1 assist, +2), and Kirby Dach (2 assists, +3) were the lone bright spots for Chicago. Other than one Grade-A scoring chance by Jonathan Toews early in the first period, the Hawks’ first line of Kubalik-Toews-Saad was quiet all game; and overall team defense was lacking.

Ironically, Game 2 was a mirror opposite of Game 1, with Edmonton and Chicago essentially trading places. In Game 2, it was Edmonton who controlled every facet of play — from 5-on-5 to special teams. Chicago’s power play in particular struggled mightily compared to last game; and could have been the difference in the second period, when the Hawks were awarded three consecutive power plays and a fourth that extended into the third period. Unlike in Game 1 when the Blackhawks converted 3-of-6 power plays, the Hawks finished Game 2 going 0-for-4 on the man advantage.

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