Edmonton Oilers clinch playoff spot

The Edmonton Oilers clinched a playoff spot with a 6-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche Friday night at Rogers Place.

“I liked all four lines,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said. “I thought they contributed. Our six defencemen played well and, obviously, Skins has always been very solid for us. But getting depth scoring has always been an issue for most of the season . . . McLeod line chips in with three goals, so I thought that’s probably the highlight for me of getting that line playing well.”

The Oilers grabbed the lead 1:52 into the game when Corey Perry deflected Darnell Nurse’s point shot past Alexander Georgiev for his 11th of the season. Jonathan Drouin powered a one-timer past Stuart Skinner to make it 1-1. Ross Colton stormed around Mattias Ekholm and cut in front to make it 2-1 Colorado. Connor McDavid banked in his 30th of the season from behind the net to even it up late in the first. Leon Draisaitl had an assist on the play to earn his 100th point of the season.

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Ekholm drilled Mikko Rantanen with a massive body check four minutes into the second. Jack Johnson tried to fight Ekholm, but all he got out of it was a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. On the ensuing power play, Miles Wood went in on a shorthanded breakaway, but was denied by Skinner.

Rantanen left the game and didn’t return.

“The play happened so fast,” Ekholm said after the game. “I usually just go looking for the puck. I usually don’t hit that much, and it just happened to be that he wasn’t expecting it. Even if you look on the replay — like my skate — I’m stopping right before the hit. I could have gone right through him, but I thought I let up. Still, it’s hard for him when he doesn’t see me coming right? So hopefully he’ll be alright, but in my opinion, it was a hockey play.”

Still in the second, Ekholm put a shot on net and had the rebound carom in as he powered through the crease. The Avs challenged for goalie interference, but the goal stood.

“I think the 60 minute effort from everybody — whether it was on the backcheck, whether it was following plays up on the ice, joining the rush — I thought we had a pretty complete 60 minutes tonight and it was really nice to see after, obviously, our game in Dallas that we didn’t like one bit,” Ekholm said. “When we play like this we’re tough to handle.”

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Evander Kane broke a 21-game goalless drought with 1.3 seconds to go in the frame. Georgiev couldn’t cleanly handle Ryan McLeod’s slap shot and the puck went in off Kane as he drove the net.

“It was nice to end the streak tonight,” Kane said. “It seemed like that was the only way it was going to go in, so I’ll take it.”

McDavid nudged home his second of the night four minutes into the third. Kane scored off a bank shot from a sharp angle for his 23rd of the season.

The Oilers outshot the Avalanche 46-23.

Draisaitl assisted on Ekholm’s goal for his 500th career helper.

The Oilers, 46-24-5, will visit the Calgary Flames on Saturday (630 CHED, Face-off Show at 6:30 p.m., game at 8 p.m.).

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