Player ratings: Edmonton Oilers clinch playoffs by crushing Colorado Avalanche 6-3

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The Edmonton Oilers came off slow but grew stronger as the game wore on, with Evander Kane fueling an offensive rush that helped crush the Colorado Avalanche 6-3.

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What seemed unlikely in Dave Tippett’s final days is now a reality, with the Oilers securing a playoff spot under new coach Jay Woodcroft. The Oilers have 23 wins and 11 losses under Woodcroft.

In the end, Grade A shots were 11 for the Oilers, 17 for the Avs, with seven 5-alarm shots for Edmonton and four for the Avs.

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Connor McDavid, 7. Solid game. Three assists, although none of them spectacular in any way. No shots on the net. He tossed the puck onto the ice and made a quick deke, then dropped it to Kane for Edmonton’s first goal. He executed a sharp horizontal dart just outside the blue line to help send Kane on his hat-trick goal. He also set up Kane in the sequence leading up to Yamamoto’s goal. McD missed the net on a breakaway in the third, largely because he took a hit to the hands. He now has 116 points, compared to 113 for Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau, who has one game in hand in this race for the NHL scoring title.

Kailer Yamamoto, 7. Energetic and effective. He pounced on a rebound to fuel the virtuous cycle of Kane’s second goal. He jumped over a loose puck in the slot to deliver a backhand for Edmonton’s fifth goal, Yamamoto’s 19th of the season.

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Evander Kane, 9. Edmonton’s offensive engine in this game, with three goals and three assists. He was too aggressive and allowed a deadly pass creating a 3v1 on Avs’ first goal. He started his first goal-scoring sequence with a wicked cut control, taking the puck out to McD, then slammed the lap shut, with the normally reliable Kuemper out of position. On his second goal, he won a board battle, getting a five-alarm shot off an outside shot from Bouchard, then a second to score on a great pass from Keith. The most spectacular was his third goal, in which he beat Josh Manson and then Kuemper on a steal. He also found time to put pressure on the obnoxious Nazem Kadri. He fired a shot into the net that bounced off an Avs d-man to Yamamoto for Edmonton’s fifth goal.

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Leon Draisaitl, 7. A beast in a big moment of the game, making a crucial pokecheck to thwart Colorado’s 5v3 early in the second, then rushing through a few more passes to end the sequence. It could be said that he was slow for the shooter Nichushkin on his second goal. He hit Cale Makar in the butt with a sneaky shoulder. He took the puck like a freight train to the net for a 5-alarm jam shot. A moment later he intercepted a pass from Manson and broke through for a quick, hard shot.

Ryan MacLeod, 4. He made a fundamental mistake, turning and walking away from the play, which led to MacKinnon’s power play in the first. He let MacKinnon fall behind for a 5-alarm shot in the second. He was calm on the attack.

Zach Hyman, 5. His turnover led to a dangerous early 2v1, the first of several defensive blunders. He charged into a breakaway in the third. He worked hard all the time, as usual.

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. He came out of a tricky slot on the first. His hooking penalty led to a 5 against 3 from 1:11 Avs. Sportsnet commentator Bob Stauffer called the penalty a “BS” call and a “joke”. RNH made a rough pass to Bouchard in his scoring sequence. He ripped a power wristband off the bar. He threw a pass to send Hyman on a breakaway.

Warren Foegele, 5. He lost a battle that led to an early career of Avs odd men. Other than that, he was fine, but did little in attack.

Derek Ryan, 6. He made a number of strong plays on offense, including a nice play to take a hit, and then sent a cross dart to RNH for the first of Edmonton’s Grade A shots.

Zack Cassian, 5. Quiet game, but nothing too bad.

Derick Brassard, 4. There’s not much to report in just over six minutes of ice time.

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Nurse Darnell, 3. He was having a rough game that got even rougher when he got used to it. He made an overly aggressive and bad decision in a pinch in the first, starting the Pain Sequence on Avs’ first goal. A moment later he tripped Burakovsky and was awarded a penalty. He was picked off slightly and allowed Nichushkin to move into the slot on his second goal. He left the match in the second half after a tough battle at the edge of the net where he seemed to limp somewhat. We’re all hoping this isn’t too much, as their main d-man coming out this time of year is bad, bad, bad news.

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Cody Ceci, 7. Another super solid game, something he’s becoming known for. He battled Nichushkin in the crease when there was a loose puck to score in the bottom of the first. He kept a clean sheet, meaning he didn’t make any major mistakes on a grade A shot with the same force throughout the game.

Duncan Keith, 7. He’s playing well, reading the play at a high level and throwing skillful passes. The speedy Newhook challenged him to a run down the wing early in the game, but stuck with him. His diagonal dart set up Kane’s second goal.

Evan Bouchard, 8. Really good in this one, with three big contributions to Grade A shooting and a clean sheet in his own zone. He got a decent power play shot in the first, then kept winning the puck, rushing it to the ice and making a good pass, showing class and calm early in the game. He ripped a puck into the net and grabbed the rebound for Edmonton’s second goal. He made a key shot that led to Kane’s second goal. He crossed MacKinnon on the boards, apologized for it, then had MacKinnon deflect one off his leg, but the game was in garbage time by then.

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Kris Russell, 8. The underrated Russell still has the speed and intelligence to play well at this level, with his quick drop back and clearance contributing to Bouchard’s goal and an assist for the #6. He allowed a diagonal dart that led to a 5-alarm MacKinnon shot. When Nurse got hurt, he became part of the top couple with Ceci. He made a long one-shot bomb into an empty net to freeze the game. Four hits and five blocks.

Tyson Barry, 6. Quiet but solid game.

Brett Kulack, 4. Rancid first period, she settled down as things progressed. He was beaten in an early 2v1 that led to a dangerous shot from Helm. A moment later he missed a spin and went down, setting up an even more dangerous 2v1 for Logan O’Connor. He capped it off by jumping onto the ice early and taking a penalty for too many men. But he lobbed the puck across the boards starting the sequence for Kane’s hat kick for an assist.

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Mike Smith, 7. Another good game. Stoned Helm and O’Connor in 5 early game alarms. He had no chance on Colorado’s first goal, a cross dart followed by a one-shot in a 3-on-1 break. Kadri’s shot slipped past him late in the first, but Smith managed to find it and smother it. He could have done better on Nichushin’s second goal, which was on the outer edge of the Grade A shooting zone, although it was indeed a well-placed shot. He made a great save from Burakovsky in the third, then hit Lehkonen at the crease. He made a good point-blank save at Newhook to stifle any late life from the Avs.

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