GREENBURGH, N.Y — Connor McDavid picked up speed heading into the offensive zone with the puck along for the very fast ride.
After zipping by an overmatched Devils forward and skating through the right circle, McDavid stopped short and sent a perfect pass across to linemate Leon Draisaitl for the easy sudden-death winner.
That’s the written replay from Edmonton’s 3-2 victory Thursday in Newark. The ending came two nights after McDavid gave the Islanders a dose of sudden death with a one-timer in Brooklyn, good for a 2-1 win in overtime.
The 20-year-old center has started to receive recognition as the NHL’s new best player. Now McDavid will be leading the Oilers in pursuit of a Metro hat trick — a sweep of their area tour. The Rangers will try to prevent that in the Saturday matinee at the Garden.
“They’ve got a good team with one of the best players in the world,” Rick Nash said Friday after practice at the MSG Training Center. “So we’re going to have our hands full.”
Sidney Crosby had been considered the league’s No. 1 player, and McDavid still considers Pittsburgh’s premier center to be that.
But after becoming the NHL’s only 100-point man last season, McDavid was voted by his fellow players as the winner of the Ted Lindsay Award for most outstanding player, which went nicely with his Hart Trophy for MVP and his Art Ross Trophy for top scorer.
Asked if McDavid got his Lindsay vote, Nash said, “Yeah, he’s so good on his edges. He’s much faster than everyone else. His skill level is higher than everyone else. You haven’t seen a player like him since Crosby. These guys, they’re one-in-a-decade type players.”
The Oilers handed their young captain an eight-year, $100 million extension in July that starts next season. He had just scored 30 goals and set up 70 others as an NHL sophomore, leading Edmonton to its first postseason appearance since 2006.
Before this season, The Sports Network in Canada and The Hockey News ranked him as the league’s top player. McDavid owns 18 points on six goals and 12 assists in 15 games.
“You can really only hope to contain him,” said Ryan McDonagh, who will see him often as a top-pair defenseman. “He’s going to make the players around him better.”
Following a 3-7-1 start, the Oilers have won three of four.
Following a 3-7-2 start, the Rangers have won five straight.
“We’ve got a little bit of a swagger going, too,” Mika Zibanejad said, “knowing that we can win.”
Notes & quotes: Boo Nieves practiced as the fourth-line center. He missed the last three games due to a stomach bug. He said, “I’m good to go for the game.”