RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes limited Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid to one secondary assist and one shot on net. Unfortunately, they forgot about Leon Draisaitl.
Draisaitl, back playing center after spending the majority of the season on McDavid’s wing, scored once and added three assists in the Oilers’ 7-3 win over Carolina in front of 10,554 at PNC Arena.
“It’s disappointing when our compete is the way it was tonight,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said after the loss. “That’s how our team is constructed. If we don’t compete and if we’re not the hardest-working team, we don’t give ourselves a chance.”
Edmonton scored three goals in both the first and second periods, exploiting a confounded Carolina defense and an overwhelmed Scott Darling to take control of a matchup between teams whose seasons will end on following games on April 7.
“That goes to show that we have to come to work,” Hurricanes co-captain Jordan Staal said. “We play in the NHL. We have this privilege to be here, and we can’t lay eggs like that every game or every other game. We can’t just not work. It looks like that when we don’t, and it’s no fun to play. It’s not fun to let each other down like that.”
The first period featured a lot of goals — with plenty of help from both defenses.
First, Brock McGinn — after getting upended on an open-ice hit by Oilers defenseman Matt Benning — retrieved a puck in front of Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot and backhanded the puck that hit defenseman Yohann Auvitu’s stick and went in to make it 1-0 at 4:30 of the first.
The Oilers responded with three straight goals.
Edmonton tied it when Hurricanes defenseman Haydn Fleury lost track of Oilers winger Drake Caggiuila and he deposited a Leon Draisaitl pass past Darling (23 saves) to tie it just 23 seconds after Carolina opened the scoring.
Two minutes later, Benning was denied off a rush, but tracked the fluttering puck behind the goal line and batted it out of midair and off Darling’s back and in to give Edmonton the lead.
Ryan Strome then got his 13th goal of the year by reaching for a loose puck behind Darling and swiping it in the next before the first period even reached the halfway point.
Carolina chipped away at the lead with a goal on their first power play.
After several good chances by the first power play unit, Sebastian Aho finally got one past Talbot (28 saves) for his 26th goal of the season and a one-goal deficit.
“After one it was a one-goal game, but like I said, we just have to play through their momentum wisely,” Aho said. “Just try to box them out and let them shoot outside and try to be hard at the net and both blue lines.”
The Oilers got another good bounce early in the second to extend their lead.
A clearing attempt by Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk hit a referee’s skate and went right to Pontus Aberg, and his wrist shot beat Darling to make it 4-2 just 92 seconds into the second period.
Teuvo Teravainen pulled Carolina within one again at 4:12, but two more Oilers goals — by Johann Auvitu and Draisaitl — vaulted Edmonton to a 6-3 lead after two periods.
“Obviously (Darling was) coming off a pretty good game in New York on Sunday and (we wanted to) give him a chance to go back-to-back with victories,” Peters said. “They scored their sixth one late in the second. We talked about possibly making a change there, but we were pretty flat. I didn’t think that was going to do much for us.”
The third featured little, with the only goal coming from Jesse Puljujarvi, his 12th, at 13:06 to finalize the score.
“It’s the work ethic and it’s the effort,” Staal said. “It just wasn’t there.”
Notes: Noah Hanifin missed his second game with a concussion. … Faulk and Klas Dahlbeck were on the ice for four consecutive goals and were split up in the third period. … Valentin Zykov, playing his first NHL game of the season, was minus-1 with two shots on goal in 15:05 of ice time and played on the second power play unit. … Joakim Nordstrom was a healthy scratch. … Fleury was plus-1, the only Hurricanes player with a positive plus/minus. … Darling is now 12-18-7 on the season and a 3.19 goals-against average, and his .885 save percentage is worst among NHL goalies with at least 20 appearances.