The Edmonton Oilers bounced back nicely from a bad home loss.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist as the Oilers beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 Wednesday night to even their second-round playoff series at two games apiece.
Nick Bjugstad, Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm also scored as the Oilers built a four-goal lead in the second period. Connor McDavid had two assists and Stuart Skinner stopped 25 shots.
“We’ve got to follow it up,” McDavid said. “Someone’s got to do it two nights in a row. It’s got to be us.”
Nicolas Roy scored in the third period for Vegas. Adin Hill stopped 29 shots in his first NHL playoff start after playing minutes in the two previous games of the series.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night at Las Vegas, and Game 6 will be back in Edmonton on Sunday.
“We think when we’re at our best, we are a very tough team to handle,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “I’ve seen it so far in two of the four games. The challenge is going to be to put them together back to back and win a game in a tough building.”
The Golden Knights took the first game 6-4 and the Oilers the second 5-1 in Las Vegas. Edmonton lost 5-1 at home in Game 3 before earning a split with this win. The Oilers must win on the road at least once to advance to the Western Conference final.
“It was a great response tonight but we need to replicate that in Game 5,” Nugent-Hopkins said.
Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo took a major and a game misconduct with less than 90 seconds remaining. After Leon Draisaitl shot wide of an empty net, Pietrangelo slashed the Oilers’ forward across the arms. McDavid then sought retribution in the corner from Pietrangelo.
“You’d like to see it reviewed for sure,” McDavid said. “I mean it’s as intent to injure as you can get. … Time, score, clock, all play a factor. He comes from over his own head and places it kind of under Leon’s chin. You’d like to see something like that suspended. It’s not a hockey play.”
It came late in a penalty-filled third period, with all the infractions coming in the final 10 minutes. Vegas’ Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault were assessed misconducts, along with Edmonton’s Kailer Yamamoto and Evander Kane earlier in the period. Also, the Golden Knights’ Nicolas Hague and the Oilers’ Darnell Nurse were sent off for fighting, with Nurse also getting an instigator penalty and a misconduct. Vegas’ Brett Howden also received a misconduct with 25 seconds remaining.
Bjugstad, coming off Edmonton’s bench, forced a turnover by Shea Theodore in the offensive zone. When Klim Kostin missed the net, Bjugstad got the puck behind the goal line and banked a backhand off Hill’s leg at 6:46 of the first period to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
With Theodore serving a slashing minor, Bouchard earned his fourth power-play goal of the playoffs at 7:38 to double the lead. McDavid, from behind the goal line, fed Bouchard for a one-timer.
Ekholm scored his first of the playoffs with a blast from the top of the faceoff circle to beat Hill far side for a 3-0 lead with 6:30 left in the opening period.
Vegas captain Mark Stone trailed that play in pain after he went down by Edmonton’s net. Stone missed 39 regular-season games after back surgery, but returned for the playoffs.
“We put ourselves in a bad spot early,” Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Managing the puck, staying out of the box … we didn’t do either of those in the first period well enough.
“You start chasing the game and now they’re excited and they’re thinking ‘We’re going to bounce back’ and they get to their game.”
The Oilers killed off consecutive penalties midway through the second period. Zach Hyman took a cross-checking minor and Skinner was penalized for playing the puck outside the trapezoid. Pietrangelo rang a shot off the crossbar during the Knights’ second man advantage.
Nugent-Hopkins also got his first of the playoffs as he beat Hill with a wrist shot from the slot off a pass from McDavid from the boards to make it a four-goal lead with 5:15 left in the second.
“Happy to get one tonight, but more so happy to contribute to a big win for us,” Nugent-Hopkins said.
Roy chipped the puck upstairs over Skinner’s glove at 5:58 of the third period for his first goal of the playoffs.
Edmonton’s power play, which came in converting at a 56% pace in the playoffs, went 1 for 6. The Oilers also held Vegas to 0 for 4.
NEXT GOALIE UP
Vegas started five different goalies during the regular season because of injury. That trend continued into the playoffs.
Laurent Brossoit started eight straight playoff games. He was replaced by Hill in the first period of Game 3 because of what appeared to be a left leg injury. Hill stopped all 25 shots he faced over the remaining 48 minutes in the Knights’ 5-1 win.
Vegas head coach Bruce Cassidy said before Wednesday’s game he wouldn’t know how long Brossoit would be sidelined until the team returns to Vegas.
Jonathan Quick, acquired at the NHL deadline, drew in at backup behind Hill, with Jiri Patera the third-stringer.