The Edmonton Oilers are steamrolling towards the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a 15-3-2 record in their last 20 games overall and points in 12 straight home games after defeating the Dallas Stars 5-2 at Rogers Place on Wednesday (April 20).
Zach Hyman, Evander Kane, Connor McDavid, Jesse Puljujarvi and Derek Ryan scored for the Oilers, who got a 34-save performance from goaltender Mike Smith. Edmonton never trailed, going in front 2-0 early and then retaking the lead after Dallas had tied the game in the second period.
The Oilers have just one regulation loss in 11 games since March 27. Their record now stands at 45-26-6 for a total of 96 points through 77 games, giving them a four-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division.
Moreover, the Oilers move closer to officially punching their ticket to the postseason, with their magic number down to two. Any combination of two points gained by Edmonton/lost by the Vegas Golden Knights and two points gained by Edmonton/lost by the Vancouver Canucks will clinch a playoff spot for the Oilers.
Edmonton’s magic number is the most important of all following Wednesday’s victory, but it wasn’t the only significant stat from the Oilers’ 5-2 victory over Dallas. Here are three others:
Bouchard Reaches 40 Points
Evan Bouchard set up second-period goals by Hyman and Puljujarvi, giving the Oilers blueliner 30 assists and 40 points this season.
At age 22, Bouchard is the youngest defenceman to record a 40-point season for the Oilers since 1983-84, when a 22-year-old Paul Coffey scored 40 goals and assisted on 86 others to rack up an incredible 126 points. Bouchard is also the youngest Oilers blueliner to have a 30-assist campaign since the Hall-of-Famer did it in 1983-84.
Bouchard had already become the youngest Oilers defenceman to reach double-figures for goals in a season since Coffey in 1983-84, when he scored for the 10th time this season in Edmonton’s 3-2 road victory over the Kings on April 7.
Bouchard is the fourth Oilers defenseman in the last 20 seasons to record at least 10 goals and 30 assists, joining his current teammate Darnell Nurse and former Oilers Chris Pronger and Sheldon Souray.
McDavid Moves Back in Front of Huberdeau
It took McDavid all of 24 hours to reclaim top spot in the NHL points race after being surpassed by Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau.
After Huberdeau recorded three assists against the New York Islanders on Tuesday to bring his season total to 111 points, one better than McDavid entering play on Wednesday, the Oilers captain responded with a goal and two helpers against the Stars to move back into first with 113 points.
The two superstars could end up leap-frogging each other multiple times over the final week and a half of the NHL season, as Florida has six games remaining on its schedule, while the Oilers play five more times.
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The player that finishes with the most points receives the Art Ross Trophy. McDavid has captured that award three times (2016-17, 2017-18, 2020-21), while Huberdeau is in pursuit of his first.
Both Huberdeau and McDavid are on pace to hit 120 points, which would make this season the first since 2005-06 that multiple players (Jaromir Jagr and Joe Thornton) had reached that mark.
Smith’s Shutout Streak Finally Ends
Stars forward Jason Robertson’s goal 11:39 into Wednesday’s game was the first time since the third period of Edmonton’s April 7 victory in Los Angeles that Smith had surrendered a goal.
Related: Oilers’ Goaltending Rounding Into Form Before Playoffs
His shutout streak, which included clean sheet wins against the Nashville Predators (4-0 on April 14) and Vegas Golden Knights (4-0 on April 16), lasted 144:39, the seventh longest in franchise history. Tommy Salo holds the Oilers’ record at 192:53, set in the 2000-01 season.
Smith is providing the Oilers with stellar goaltending of late. He has won his last eight starts and is a perfect 7-0-0 with a 1.57 goals-against average (GAA) and .954 save percentage (SV%) in April. His only loss over the last four weeks came in relief of Mikko Koskinen against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on March 26.
Oilers Can Clinch on Friday
Edmonton will next be in action on Friday (April 22) when they host the Western Conference-leading Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place. For the Oilers, it’s simple: a win against the Avs clinches a playoff spot.
The Oilers could also be in a position to lock up the second seed in the Pacific Division, giving them home advantage in their first-round playoff series, should the Kings lose in regulation against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday (April 21).