Player grades: Connor McDavid's secret super power pushes Edmonton Oilers to 2-1 win over Winnipeg Jets

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The Edmonton Oilers beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 in a grinding defensive struggle, largely due to the individual brilliance of Connor McDavid.

The win means the Oiles are now tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for first place in the Canadian, making up a seemingly unsurmountable 10 points in three weeks, after losing three straight to Toronto.

There was not one Grade A scoring chance for either team in the first period, and the res tof the game was almost as stagnant, save for McDavid’s lightning strikes.

In the end, scoring chances were seven for the Oilers, seven for the Jets (running count).

Connor McDavid, 8. He was a one man wrecking machine. He made major contributions to six of the Oil’s seven Grade A chances. The Oil outshot the Jets 13-7 when he was on the ice. He rushed hard and drew a penalty in a tightly-wound first. Checking was so tight that even McDavid was playing dump-and-chase by his last shift of the period. But the dump-and-case worked early in the second, with McDavid snatching a Darnell Nurse shoot-in off the boards, moving in and firing home a laser-guided shot, laser guidance being one of McDavid’s secret super powers. He set up Puljujarvi on a one-timer a moment later, then put in his second of the game, much like the first, fooling Laurent Brossoit with quick hand movement and puck skills before beaming in a second laser-guided shot. He set up Josh Archibald for a 5-alarm jam shot. The only real blemish on his game was a turnover in the d-zone in the final minute.

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. He made solid passes all game on the 97 line. He got his one Grade A shot of the game in the third off a McDavid feed and Kris Russell breakout pass.

Jesse Puljujarvi, 7. Hustled hard, looked sharp. He missed the net on a wide-open slot shot late in the first, the Oil’s second such blown chance of the first period. He body-slammed Dylan DeMelo in a net front battle. He got a Grade A shot on net in the second. He won a puck, rushed up the ice and combined with McDavid and RNH for a slot shot late in the third, but failed to cash in.

Leon Draisaitl, 5. His line was just OK, getting out shot 8-to-5. He made not one contribution to a Grade A chance all game, though there were a few missed shots in there. Threw a hard elbow puck protecting against the unfortunate DeMelo. He let Nicholaj Ehlers go for a Grade B chance in the first, which wasn’t much of a chance but still the best of that parched period, where the checking was lethal and all the pucks were dead. He was part of the general fiasco leading to Kyle Connor’s post shot in the second but hustled back on the back check to help thwart a dangerous Winnipeg rush in the third.

Domink Kahun, 4. He made a sweet cross-seam feed to Caleb Jones, only to have Jones miss the net from the high slot. But he made the same mistake himself, missing the net on an excellent Draisaitl pass in the third on a two-on-one. He made a turnover on Winnipeg’s goal.

Josh Archibald, 5. He threw a bit hit early in the game and ended up leading the forwards with four hits. He allowed an in tight cross-seam shot in the second leading to a one-timer off the post. He failed to convert in tight off a brilliant McDavid feed.

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Devin Shore, 5. Quiet game, but helped set up one Grade A chance.

Alex Chiasson, 5. Nothing too positive, but nothing at all negative.

Joakim Nygard, 6. He made a diving defensive clearance to send his linemates on a two-on-one. He created a another odd-man rush with a stretch pass to Chiasson in the third, leading to an Adam Larsson’s Grade A shot.

Gaetan Haas, 5. Solid defensive hockey in 13:37 of playing time, not much on the attack.

Tyler Ennis, 5. He got off one Grade A chance shot in the second.

Zack Kassian, 6. He made a quick pass to help send in McDavid for his second goal.

Darnell Nurse, 6. An up and down game, with four major mistakes on Grade A chances against. He led the team with five hits. He made a solid take-out on an Adam Lowry short-handed rush. He bossed the offensive blueline well late in the first. Early in the second a malfunction at the junction saw him and Barrie collide, the puck popping to Mathieu Perrault for two 5-alarm chances in tight. He and Barrie again had a slight mix-up in the second, allowing a pass and shot tip on Winnipeg’s first goal.

Tyson Barrie, 6. His hard shot hurt Mark Scheifele last in the first. He made a fine stretch pass to kick off the virtuous cycle on McDavid’s second goal.

Adam Larsson, 7. True to his exellent defensive form this year, he made a game-saving shot block on Blake Wheeler with seconds left in the game, followed up with two crucial slot stickchecks. His usual solid game. He charged into the play and took a Grade B high slot shot in the third. Next he sent in Draisaitl and Kahun on a two-on-one.

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Caleb Jones, 4. Shaky at times. He missed the net on a high slot shot in the first. He made an iffy call, got too deep in the o-zone and allowed a breakaway pass to Trevor Lewis. He failed to stop a cross-seam feed from Ehlers on Kyle Connor’s post shot.

Kris Russell, 7. He and Bear are forming a solider partnership. He block a dangerous slot shot in the first, but then muffed a slot pass on the following odd-man rush.

Ethan Bear, 7.  For the second game in a row, he made not one major error on a Grade A chance against. He was prancing, dancing and making fine plays with the puck all game. He snapped a hard shot off annoying, pesky Pionk’s cup in the third, for a full mark for that.

Mikko Koskinen, 7. Given recent history, I was relieved to see Koskinen make a solid save on a Grade B chance by Neal Pionk 21 seconds into the game. He stopped Trevor Lewis’  botched breakaway in the second, then came up as big as a damn mountain a moment later, stopping the two 5-alarmers from Perreault. But Perreault beat him on his third 5-alarmer, a tip shot in tight. He was saved by the post on a second period one-timer by Kyle Connor. The crossbar also was his friend on a Paul Statsny angle shot in the third.

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