Mikheyev fires Maple Leafs past McDavidless Oilers who suffer their 11th loss in the last 13

Ilya Mikheyev of the Toronto Maple Leafs contributed to Wednesday night’s misery for the Edmonton Oilers.

Mikheyev scored during a third-period Power Play as Toronto defeated the undermanned Oilers 4-2. It was the eighth consecutive win for the Leafs with the man advantage. This was also the fifth consecutive contest Edmonton allowed a power-play goal.

Mikheyev ripped his third goal of the season — and third in the last two games since returning from wrist surgery Dec. 14 — past Oiler goaltender Mike Smith’s glove at 11:25 of the final period on a man advantage. After Edmonton defenseman Slater Koekkoek placed the puck on the winger, it ended the tie at 2-2.

Mikheyev declared, “If I have the chance to try it, why not?”

T.J. Brodie and John Tavares also scored for Toronto (22-8-2). Jack Campbell saved 28 Leafs games, bringing their record to 20-4-1 in the past 25. William Nylander had two assists. Alexander Kerfoot netted it in the empty net, setting up his team’s opening.

Brendan Perlini, Leon Draisaitl, and Brendan Perlini responded for Edmonton (18-14-2), with Smith scoring 29 saves. The Oilers lead Western Conference with a record of 16-5-0 Dec. 1, but they are now 2-9-2 after a 0-3-2 roadtrip.

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Ilya Mikheyev wins the Leafs victory over Oilers

Ilya Mikheyev’s goal in the third period put Toronto ahead as Toronto beat Edmonton 4-2. 0:49

Tavares said that Mikheyev is getting back into the groove.

He said, “It’s wonderful to see him gain some confidence and be rewarded.”

Edmonton was without Connor McDavid as captain, Derek Ryan as centre and Tyson Barrie as defenceman. All three were added to NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the top-six forward for the Oilers (undisclosed), was also out of Edmonton. He has been placed on injured reserve.

Auston Matthews was in the lineup for the Leafs after a COVID-19 scare kept him from practice Monday and Tuesday.

Smith, who had been out for two months with an undisclosed injuries, only made his sixth appearance of 2021-22 after missing the first two. It included Monday’s 4-1 loss against the New York Rangers. This saw under-fire head Coach Dave Tippett critique Mikko Koskinen’s performance.

Tippett explained that “there was a lot to be tried in our game.” “We couldn’t get the play that makes the difference.

“Every play matters in this game. To be a winner, you must get that play. They got it tonight, and we didn’t.”

McDavid’s homecoming dashed

Wednesday’s date had been circled on the calendar not only because of McDavid’s yearly trip to Toronto — except for last season’s one-and-done North Division when Canadian teams played in a closed division — but also the return of former Leafs fan favourite Zach Hyman after he bolted to the Oilers in free agency.

The nationally televised game was instead played without the NHL’s reigning MVP and devoid of atmosphere — save for canned crowd noise — with fans barred from Scotiabank Arena due to provincial COVID-19 restrictions in response to the pandemic’s wave fuelled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

Draisaitl declared, “I guess it could’ve gone either way after that second but we are standing here again, leaving without any points.”

“We are not giving up on anyone. We are not quitting at the coach. It will eventually get better. We’re clearly struggling now with key players. It’s up to us to find the right solution.

Toronto beat Edmonton 5-1 Dec. 14, before an outbreak of coronavirus that affected 14 players and seven staff members at its peak. The team then returned to action with Saturday’s 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Hyman was with the Leafs for six seasons, winning over fans through his hard work, determination and grit. Then, Hyman signed a seven year, $38.5-million US contract to Edmonton.

The Leafs started the scoring at 4 minutes 25 of the first. Nylander’s shot off end boards was tipped by Tavares, and accidentally kicked into Smith’s Edmonton net. The goal was Nylander’s 14th as Toronto captain. It was also the Oilers’ 24th NHL-highest conceded goal of the season.

At 9:58, the visitors responded when Colton Sceviour discovered Perlini in front of the rush for his second.

Draisaitl was able to make it 2-1 at 1:14 after Kailer Yamamoto put pressure on him to pass. He buried his league-leading 26th.

But the Leafs responded with 25.7 seconds left in the period when Brodie’s point shot hit the stick of Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard for the blue-liner’s third of the season — and third in as many games.

They played very little until Mitch Marner scored a power play for Toronto and the teams finished in a close second.

Ryan McLeod, Edmonton’s forward, had an opportunity to give his team the lead. But he didn’t realize Campbell was at his mercy. He then slipped a no-look pass through a crowd before Smith denied Nylander a breakaway to tie things up heading into the third.