EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Evander Kane was without a team in January after having his contract terminated. He’s now a crucial member of Edmonton’s playoff push.
Kane had three goals in a six-minute span in the second period, Leon Draisaitl set an NHL record with four assists in one playoff period and the Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 4-1 on Sunday night to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round playoff series.
Kane signed with the Oilers in January, a few weeks after being waived by San Jose following a string of off-ice incidents.
“I’m just happy to be part of this group,” Kane said. “Just trying to do my part.”
Zach Hyman had the other goal for Edmonton and Connor McDavid had three more assists. Mike Smith, who was briefly replaced by Mikko Koskinen in the third period after getting run over by Milan Lucic, made 31 saves. Koskinen wasn’t forced to make a stop in just over four minutes.
McDavid now has 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) through 10 postseason games. The only players in NHL playoff history with more points in the same span are Wayne Gretzky (29 in 1983; 25 in 1985), Mario Lemieux (25 in 1992) and Rick Middleton (23 in 1983).
“He’s been on fire in the playoffs and has taken his game to the next level,” Kane said. “He’s not just doing it on the scoresheet. That’s what’s allowing him to really showcase his skill. He’s physical, he’s involved. A dominant force.”
Oliver Kylington scored the lone goal for Calgary. Jacob Markstrom allowed four goals on 34 shots before getting pulled for the Flames, who have been outscored 8-1 since taking a 3-1 lead in the second period of Game 2. Dan Vladar made seven saves in relief.
“We lose the second period 4-0,” Calgary defenseman Rasmus Andersson said. “We let one guy (McDavid) dominate.”
The Oilers will look to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series Tuesday night at Edmonton.
In the first playoff meeting in Edmonton to feature the Oilers and Flames since April 14, 1991, the Oilers scored four goals in just over 12 minutes in the second period — including Kane’s second hat trick of the month.
Hyman opened the scoring 52 seconds into the period off a setup from Draisaitl and McDavid for his sixth goal of the postseason.
Kane scored his first of the night at 6:58 off a feed from Draisaitl.
Kane made it 3-0 just 53 seconds later after an impressive rush by McDavid after stepping past Calgary defenseman Noah Hanifin.
Kane completed his hat trick — the seventh-fastest in NHL postseason history — with his 10th goal of the playoffs at 12:58 on a 2-on-1 with McDavid.
The 30-year-old Kane is the third Edmonton player to score three straight goals in a postseason game, joining Gretzky (1983) and Petr Kilma (1991).
After his contract was voided by San Jose, Kane signed with his fourth NHL team despite questions about his past — from suspensions due to COVID-19 protocol violations, a bankruptcy and self-confessed gambling problems. There were also allegations of assault and domestic violence.
“I didn’t know Evander Kane at all,” said Edmonton interim head coach Jay Woodcroft, who replaced the fired Dave Tippett in February. “What I’ve learned is he is a hockey player with really, really good habits.
“There’s a reason why he finds success.”
Draisaitl’s fourth assist of the second period, meanwhile, set the playoff record for any period.
”He has been really good for our group,” Kane said. “Seems to find another level each and every night.”
Markstrom, who allowed 11 combined goals in Games 1 and 2 after posting a .941 save percentage in the opening round against the Dallas Stars, got the hook in favor of Vladar to start the third.
Lucic ran over Smith behind the Oilers’ net midway through the third to kick off a melee involving all 10 skaters. The Edmonton netminder was subsequently removed in favor of Koskinen, but returned shortly later.
Kylington got a consolation goal for the visitors — his first of the playoffs — with under five minutes to go.
“They have home-ice advantage right now. We’ve got to win one game here to get it back,” Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk said. “We could’ve lost 10-0 tonight. We could’ve lost 1-0 in overtime. It’s the same result. We were in this position last series. It’s not that hard of a recipe to figure out here.
“We’ve just got to win one game and get the series tied and go back home.”
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