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McDavid focused on Oilers playoff push, not pursuit of 70 goals

Edmonton captain needs 10 goals in final 9 games to reach milestone, says 'nothing's impossible'

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Can Connor McDavid reach the prestigious 70-goal mark with three weeks remaining in the NHL regular season?

Even after failing to score in the Edmonton Oilers' 4-3 overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place on Saturday, the 26-year-old has been on a torrid pace, scoring 18 goals in his past 16 games, a rate of 1.125 goals per game. Should he maintain that production over the Oilers' remaining nine games, he would reach that milestone and become the first player to score at least 70 goals in a season since 1992-93, when Alexander Mogilny (Buffalo Sabres) and Teemu Selanne (Winnipeg Jets) each had 76.

McDavid leads the NHL in goals (60), assists (79) and points (139) in 73 games.

For his part, the Oilers captain isn't ruling out the possibility of reaching such a prestigious milestone, although he insists team success remains his top priority.

"I mean, sure, nothing's impossible," McDavid told Friday, breaking into a chuckle. "You know, obviously, you need to go on a big run and certainly anything is possible.

"Again, is it something that I'm going to be looking for or pressing for? Probably not. I mean, it's more important how our team is playing heading into the playoffs. That's the most important thing, the thing we work all season for."

Video: Check out all 60 of McDavid's goals in 72 games

The overtime loss left Edmonton (41-23-9) third in the Pacific Division with 91 points, seven behind the division-leading Golden Knights and three behind the second-place Los Angeles Kings. Los Angeles has a game in hand on Edmonton and Vegas.

The Oilers were swept in four games by the Colorado Avalanche in Western Conference Final last season, the furthest McDavid has gone in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven previous NHL seasons.

One aspect that seems to be in favor of McDavid's quest for 70 goals, reluctant or not, is the scheduIe.

Five of Edmonton's final nine games are against three teams that have been eliminated from playoff contention; the Arizona Coyotes (27th), Anaheim Ducks (29th) and San Jose Sharks (32). In six previous games against these teams this season, he has eight goals (four against the Coyotes, two each against the Ducks and Sharks).

The Oilers will play the Ducks and Sharks two more times and the Coyotes once, on Monday at Mullett Arena (10 p.m. ET; TVAS, BSAZX, SNW, ESPN+).

McDavid hit the 60-goal plateau when he scored twice in Edmonton's 4-3 overtime victory against the Coyotes on Wednesday and became only the fourth active player to reach that total, joining Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs (60 in 2021-22), Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning (60 in 2011-12) and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (65 in 2007-08). In reaching 60 goals in 72 games, he's the fastest player to reach the milestone since Mario Lemieux scored 60 goals in 70 games in 1987-88.

Though McDavid is notorious for shunning individual honors in favor of team goals, he said he understands what reaching 60 goals means.

"I mean, I'm not naive. I know that 60 is a big number and certainly that not a lot of guys have done it," he said. "And I'm not naive enough that I don't know where I sit in terms of, you know, I guess, a little bit of the history of the game and stuff like that. I do. So it's something I for sure am aware of.

"But that's not what I'm after. Obviously we're after a chance to win. We're after something much bigger than any one person or any one award or anything like that."

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