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McDavid bests Bedard as Oilers top Blackhawks to win 8th straight

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers Connor Bedard Chicago Blackhawks Connor McDavid and Connor Bedard - The Canadian Press

EDMONTON — Chapter one of the Clash of the Connors went to the red-hot Edmonton Oilers.

Connor McDavid and Evan Bouchard each had a pair of assists as the Oilers defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 on Tuesday in the first-ever meeting between McDavid and star rookie Connor Bedard.

Sam Gagner had a goal and an assist and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman also scored for the Oilers (13-12-1), who have won eight games in a row.

“Any time you win it is fun, and it is fun doing it the right way, with the goals against and limiting chances and things like that,” Hyman said. “That’s the key to success and is something we have harped on and is the reason we are on this little run.”

Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner made 22 saves to record his seventh consecutive win in net.

“I’ve seen him be able to absorb the spotlight and put any distractions behind him,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch. “From what I’ve seen here, he looks like an elite goalie. I can see why he had the season he did last year and he’s come up with some really big saves for us during this stretch.”

Bedard replied for the Blackhawks (9-18-1), who have lost seven consecutive road games.

“The first (period) was not bad, but when you kind of keep it a track meet against them it’s obviously hard with those guys,” Bedard said of facing McDavid and Co. “We created a bit and I thought it wasn’t terrible, but definitely some things to clean up.”

The younger Connor got the first word as Bedard scored his 12th of the season just 3:21 into the contest on the second shot of the game. Bedard took a long pass from Alex Vlasic for a partial breakaway and unleashed a deceptive shot that beat Skinner glove-side to the top corner.

“He made a really nice move, a very quick release,” said Skinner. “He placed it really well, too. It’s pretty hard to move it that fast and still pick a corner.”

Another first overall draft pick was able to tie the game midway through the opening period. Nugent-Hopkins took a saucer pass on a give-and-go with McDavid and beat Hawks netminder Petr Mrazek for his sixth of the season.

McDavid extended his points streak to 10 games, while blueliner Bouchard picked up the secondary assist to stretch his points streak to 12 games. It is the second-longest points streak by a defenceman in Oilers history.

Edmonton took the lead with 1:41 to play in the first frame as Derek Ryan sent a backhand pass from behind the net to Gagner, who chipped it in for his fourth of the campaign.

The Oilers got a gift goal with 6:36 remaining in the second period as a Draisaitl pass was cleanly deflected into his own net by Chicago defender Nikita Zaitsev. The goal was Draisaitl’s 12th of the season.

Edmonton made it 4-1 just 43 seconds into the final frame with a power-play goal. Hyman had an easy tap-in of a perfectly placed McDavid feed for his 16th goal.

“I thought we did a pretty good job,” said Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson. “If you take the goal that went in off of Zaitsev’s stick and you take away their power-play goal, I thought we were right in that game.”

NOTES — McDavid was the first overall draft pick in 2015, while Bedard was selected first this past summer … The Blackhawks have had plenty of adversity so far this season. Out with injuries at the moment are Taylor Hall, Andreas Athanasiou, Colin Blackwell, Seth Jones and Kevin Korchinksi. Veteran forward Corey Perry is also gone due to a contract termination. … The only Oiler on the shelf is forward Dylan Holloway. … Over the first seven games of their win streak, the Oilers were first in the NHL in goals per game with 4.86, goals against per game with 1.71, a goal differential of plus-22 and a power-play percentage of 43.5.

UP NEXT — Both teams return to action on Thursday. The Blackhawks play the second game of a short two-game trip in Seattle. The Oilers play the fifth game of a lengthy six-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 12, 2023.