McDavid nets three points, as Oilers take down Flyers

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) It has only taken the Edmonton Oilers 58 games to equal their point total from all of last season.

Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists to regain the NHL scoring lead, and the Oilers beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 on Thursday night.

Matt Hendricks, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom also scored for the Oilers, who have won two straight and three of four. Edmonton moved into a tie with Anaheim for second place in the Pacific Division with 70 points.

“It’s a good two points for us,” McDavid said. “It was a big game for both teams and we found a way to get the win.”

Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby took over the scoring lead for a brief moment earlier in the night with his own three-point performance. McDavid has 66 points and Crosby has 64.

Edmonton has scored 11 goals in its last two games after only getting four in its previous five.

“We didn’t get too down on ourselves and we felt it coming,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “We stuck with it and good things have ended up happening.”

Radko Gudas, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn scored for the Flyers, who have lost two in a row and four of their last five games.

Cam Talbot stopped 33 shots for Edmonton, and Michal Neuvirth saved 19 of 25 shots for Philadelphia.

“It’s not easy to see, but they took some penalties and I thought we could have scored some goals on those and it could have been a different game,” Gudas said. “Unfortunately we didn’t.”

Edmonton struck 2:14 into the first period when Hendricks elected to shoot on a 2-on-1, scoring his second goal in two games.

The Oilers made it 2-0 with five minutes left in the opening frame when Matt Benning made a beautiful feed in front to allow Draisaitl to direct in his 22nd goal of the season.

The Flyers cut into the lead just 31 seconds into the second period when Sean Couturier‘s pass hit Gudas in front and trickled past Talbot.

Edmonton regained its cushion seven minutes into the second when Eberle cashed in on the rebound from McDavid’s backhand for his first goal in nine games.

It was 4-1 just over a minute later when Eric Gryba‘s shot struck Nugent-Hopkins in front and got past Neuvirth.

Midway through the second period, Edmonton’s Patrick Maroon took it to Philadelphia’s Brandon Manning in a spirited bout. Manning had been embroiled in a war of words with McDavid since injuring the Oilers captain during his rookie season last year.

“He did a really good job and it’s something we’re going to drop now,” Maroon said. “We’re going to move forward here, and we’re not going to hear about it anymore.”

Edmonton took a four-goal lead with just over three minutes left in the middle period when Klefbom unleashed a cannon of a shot for the Oilers’ fifth goal on 17 shots. McDavid picked up another assist to move him back into the scoring lead.

Philadelphia got one back with 45 seconds left in the second when Simmonds was left alone in front to score his 24th.

The Flyers made it 5-3 seven minutes into the third on Schenn’s power-play goal, but McDavid put the game away for good with his 19th goal of the season with five minutes to play.

NOTES: Edmonton did not get a chance on the power play, while Philadelphia went 1 for 3.

UP NEXT

Flyers: Conclude a three-game road swing in Vancouver on Sunday night.

Oilers: Begin a six-game trip in Chicago on Saturday night.

Sheary’s agent — who’s also Dumoulin’s agent — hoping to avoid arbitration

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Conor Sheary‘s agent is hopeful that an arbitration hearing won’t be needed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And that same agent has reason to be optimistic, since he’s also the agent for Brian Dumoulin, who settled at the last minute today.

“Each (case) is so different,” Andrew Gross told the Post-Gazette this morning. “Ultimately, though, team and player would like to avoid going in that room. It’s not a pleasant experience.”

Sheary’s hearing isn’t scheduled until Aug. 4. The 25-year-old forward is coming off a 53-point regular season. In his young NHL career, he’s already won two Stanley Cups.

That said, the Penguins can’t afford to break the bank on an extension. After all, a big reason for their success has been having players like Sheary on affordable deals — a necessity with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, and Kris Letang taking up so much cap space.

Sheary wasn’t all that productive in the 2017 playoffs either, scoring just two goals with five assists in 22 games, while finishing a team-worst minus-5 for the postseason.

“We’re prepared to go to arbitration,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said last week.

Of course, Rutherford was also speaking about Dumoulin, and the two sides were able to reach an agreement on him.

You can probably expect a similar outcome with Sheary.

Just don’t bet the house on it.

Preds avoid arbitration with Austin Watson

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Another narrowly avoided arbitration to pass along.

The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that will pay him $1 million next season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in 2019-20.

Watson’s hearing was scheduled for today.

From the press release:

Watson, 25 (1/13/92), set career highs in goals (5), assists (7), points (12), penalty minutes (99) and games played (77) during the 2016-17 season as he established himself as an integral member of the Nashville roster. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound winger then added four goals and nine points in 22 postseason contests as the Predators advanced to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. Watson also appeared in 57 games for the Predators during the 2015-16 season, recording three goals and 10 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also avoided an arbitration hearing today by signing defenseman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract.

Spooner seeking $3.85 million in arbitration

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Ryan Spooner‘s arbitration hearing with the Boston Bruins is scheduled for Wednesday. And if it goes ahead, it could be a rather contentious one.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Spooner is seeking $3.85 million on a one-year deal, while the B’s are thinking almost half that at $2 million.

Spooner, a 25-year-old forward, will certainly be able to sell his offensive statistics. He had 49 points in 2015-16, then 39 points last season.

“Ryan’s a talented player,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSNNE.com. “He’s had a lot of success. Our power play is better when he plays as well as he’s capable of playing, and he can really be a good complement to our group.”

But the knock on Spooner has always been his defensive play. The past two seasons, he’s a combined minus-17. Back in May, it was reported that the B’s were entertaining trade offers for him.

Spooner’s last contract paid him $1.9 million over two years.

Dumoulin agrees to six-year contract with Penguins

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Brian Dumoulin won’t need his arbitration hearing today.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced this morning that the 25-year-old defenseman has agreed to terms on a six-year contract with a $4.1 million cap hit.

From the press release:

Dumoulin, 25, has been a key component to the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, as he played in all 49 playoff games in that span, and recorded 14 points (3G-11A). In the 2017 playoffs, Dumoulin had an average ice time of 21:59 minutes, the most of any Penguins skater, and his plus-9 paced all team defenders. He assisted on Carl Hagelin‘s empty-net goal that sealed the 2-0 victory in the decisive Game 6 of the Cup Final against Nashville. 

Dumoulin is coming off of a contract that paid him just $800,000 in each of the past two seasons.

With Dumoulin signed, Pittsburgh now has five defenseman under contract for at least the next three seasons, the other four being Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta, and Matt Hunwick.

The Pens still have one more arbitration case in forward Conor Sheary. His hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Related: Without Letang, the ‘simple bunch’ gets it done for Penguins