McDavid, 'best player in the world,' hits career-high 124 points
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice to push his NHL-leading goal total to 54 and set a career high with 124 points during a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.
McDavid continued making a case to win his third Hart Trophy for MVP in eight seasons with his 12th multigoal game of the season, helping the Oilers to a pivotal two points in a clogged Western Conference playoff race.
"The finish was all-world," Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said of McDavid scoring the go-ahead goal on the fly by beating Craig Anderson through the legs 3:23 into the third period, and less than two minutes after the Sabres tied the game at 2.
McDavid's 124 points in 65 games are one more than the career best he set in 80 games last year, and the All-Star center extended his points streak to 11 games, in which he has 12 goals and 15 assists.
"I saw someone that was competitive right from the puck drop," Woodcroft said. "Connor's at a different evolutionary stage in his game right now, and I think everyone saw that here tonight."
A crowd from an Eastern Conference city that doesn't often get to see McDavid in person appeared to have gotten their money's worth, though the hometown Sabres failed to pick up two points in their fight for a wild-card berth.
"Who's more likely to make a big play than him?" teammate Zach Hyman said. "He's the best player in the world, and he's pushing his own boundaries. He's been driving the bus for a long time and continues to get better."
Derek Ryan also scored, and Stuart Skinner stopped 37 shots for the Oilers, who improved to 5-4-3 in their past 12 and bounced back from a 7-5 loss at Winnipeg on Saturday.
Jeff Skinner and Dylan Cozens scored for the Sabres, and Anderson stopped 34 shots.
In dropping to 6-4 in its past 10, Buffalo continued its season-long struggles at home in losing five of its past seven.
Buffalo (32-26-4) is in the midst of an NHL-worst 11-season playoff drought but remains in the mix and has games in hand on most of its competition. The day began with four points separating the seventh-place New York Islanders and ninth-place Buffalo, which was locked in a four-way tie with teams with 68 points.
Earlier in the day, Sabres coach Don Granato declined to say whether he considered McDavid to be a step above everyone else in the league out of deference to his young stars. Afterward, Granato had no choice but to praise the Oilers' captain, who scored twice on three shots on net.
"He's got 50-plus for a reason, he doesn't need many [shots]," Granato said. "He's done that to lots of teams and goaltenders, and he was ready for his opportunities. That's what makes him special."
The Oilers (35-22-8) moved into a tie with Seattle for third in the Pacific Division.
After opening the scoring in the first period, McDavid scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, shortly after Cozens tied the game.
Warren Foegele drove up the left wing to gain the Sabres' zone and then spun to hit McDavid in stride cutting up the middle. McDavid veered to his left to get by defender Jacob Bryson and snapped a shot through Anderson's legs.
It was McDavid's ninth game-winning goal of the season, after he began the day in a four-way tie for second and one behind teammate Leon Draisaitl.
McDavid and the Oilers will next take on the NHL-best Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.