NHL

Hat-trick hero Kane hails 'big points' as Oilers edge Kraken in tight Pacific Division playoff chase

By Sports Desk March 18, 2023

Evander Kane underlined his value to the Edmonton Oilers with a hat-trick in their 6-4 win over the Seattle Kraken but he was more pre-occupied with what the victory meant to their playoffs hopes.

The Western Conference playoff chase is tight, with the Oilers edging ahead of the Kraken into third in the Pacific Division with Saturday's victory where they scored twice in every period in Seattle.

Edmonton are 39-23-8 on the back of three straight wins, just ahead of the Kraken (38-24-7) in the final automatic playoff spot from the Pacific Division. The Las Vegas Golden Knights (42-21-6) and Los Angeles Kings (40-20-9) lead the division.

Kane's hat-trick came from only three shots, marking his second three-goal performance of the season and fifth in his past 49 appearances.

"It's nice to help contribute to an important win," Kane said. "Big points with the division so tight.

"This is probably the tightest I've seen it with respect to the entire conference, both divisions, where you can literally be in first place in the Western Conference, or you could be in a Wild Card spot within a matter of a week. It's still tight.

"There are still very important games down the stretch left to be played, and I think it's a great opportunity for our group to enjoy that type of challenge and get you ready for the post-season."

"I've been in and out of the line-up with injuries all year, so just trying to get into some rhythm heading into the playoffs, and tonight definitely helps that."

Kane has only played in 29 of the Oilers' 70 games this campaign due to injuries, with coach Jay Woodcroft delighted to see him back at close to his best.

"Happy for him," Woodcroft said. "He's a warrior. He plays through injuries. He's just getting up and running again just because of his injuries and whatnot.

"It's kind of been a start-and-stop season for him, but he's been all around the puck in any game that he's played and for three to go in for him tonight, I was happy for him."

Kane's return to form and fitness has aided star man Connor McDavid, who had a goal and two assists, bringing up 134 points for the season.

"That's part of my job is to be productive for this group," Kane said. "Obviously we have two of the best players in the world, but they can't carry a team and win a championship. You need everyone pulling their weight.

"I've been in and out of the line-up with injuries all year, so just trying to get into some rhythm heading into the playoffs, and tonight definitely helps that."

McDavid's 134 points are the seventh-most points by a player in the past 30 years, while his performance was his 20th three-point game of the season.

Zach Hyman also added a goal and an assist, recording his first 30-goal season. He is the fourth Oilers player to reach that mark this season, the first time the franchise has achieved that since 1989-90.

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