Darcy Kuemper made 49 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout as the Colorado Avalanche edged the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 Saturday night at Rogers Place.
The Oilers had their six-game winning streak come to an end.
“I thought it was a very exciting game for our fans,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said after the game. “As a coach, standing behind our players, you saw everyone lay it on the line and compete at a very high level. We got an important point out of that game.”
There were no goals but several close calls in an action-packed first period. The Avalanche hit the post thrice and forced Mikko Koskinen to make a couple of big saves. At the other end, Darcy Kuemper slid across to conjure an astounding save on a wide open Jesse Puljujarvi.
“The team played really well in front of me,” Koskinen said post-game. “It was like a playoff game. There wasn’t too many quality chances. I really like how we played.”
The Oilers cranked it up in the second, outshooting the Avs 16-5. Kuemper held his ground, while Koskinen was there when called upon. He made a left pad save on a breakaway try by Valeri Nichushkin.
“When it’s my turn to play, I’m going to play as well as possible,” Koskinen said. “Mike (Smith) has been playing really well lately and I think it’s only a positive thing that two goalies are playing well.”
Warren Foegele finally broke the ice 5:24 into the third. He ticked Darnell Nurse’s point shot to notch his 11th of the season. Halfway though the third, Kuemper robbed Puljujarvi again, throwing out his left arm for an eye-popping denial. With 5:07 left, Nathan MacKinnon scooped up a rebound and flipped in a backhand to make it 1-1.
The Avs went on the power play with 2:24 left when Evan Bouchard was flagged for interfering with Nico Sturm. Koskinen made big saves on Artturi Lehkonen and Mikko Rantanen to send the game to an extra session.
“It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t just keep playing hockey–it felt like a playoff game and in a playoff game there are no shootouts,” Woodcroft said. “There was a lot of good in that game and we’re going to have to build on it going down the stretch here.”
In overtime, MacKinnon was sent off for slashing Connor McDavid’s stick. This time it was Kuemper’s turn to save the day, with pad saves on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid. The Oilers outshot the Avs 11-0 in overtime.
MacKinnon scored the only goal of the shootout.
“I thought we played a good game,” McDavid said. “I thought we should’ve found a way to get two points and we only found a way to get one. It’s disappointing that way, but there’s a lot of things to like in that one.”
McDavid had his 15-game point streak come to an end. The Oilers were denied a tenth straight home ice win. That would have set a franchise record.
The Oilers, 42-25-6, will visit the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED