Forget just making the playoffs.
The Edmonton Oilers have already taken care of a post-season berth, recently ending a frustrating and sometimes embarrassing franchise drought.
But why stop there? Despite giving up 40 shots on goal, the Oilers held on to defeat the San Jose Sharks by a score of 3-2 on Thursday, giving Connor McDavid and Co. a solid 95 points.
Coupled with Anaheim’s overtime loss to Winnipeg, and the Oilers are a single point behind the Ducks for the Pacific Division lead, while the Sharks remain three back.
Should the Oilers win the division, it could set up a potential first-round Battle of Alberta — one of the storied rivalries of the NHL, although it’s been difficult to hype this match-up in recent years because both teams have toiled below the playoff standard in the Western Conference.
McDavid increased his lead in the overall points race. With a goal — another beauty — and an assist, he is now up to 91 points, which is seven ahead of Patrick Kane.
“We made a few mistakes and they’re opportunistic, especially obviously McDavid,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “A couple poor line changes in the first, and [if] he gets any kind of room at all and you make a mistake when he’s on the ice, it’s got a good chance it’ll end up in the back of the net and it did.”
Patrick Maroon scored twice, including the winner.
Playing a large portion of this season — more than 650 minutes at five-on-five, per stats.hockeyanalysis.com — on a line with McDavid, Maroon is now up to 27 goals, which is a massive increase from his previous career best of 12 last season in time spent between Anaheim and Edmonton.
This latest win sets up a massive showdown between the Oilers and Ducks on Saturday. A regulation win for the Oilers would give them top spot in the Pacific Division.