Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wasted little time in helping the Edmonton Oilers earn a victory.
Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 selection at the 2011 Entry Draft, erased a 1-0 deficit with 4:55 remaining in regulation before Ales Hemsky scored the shootout winner as Edmonton rallied for a 2-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Rexall Place on Sunday night.
"It felt pretty good," Nugent-Hopkins said. "As the game went on, I started feeling more comfortable out there. "Hallsie (Taylor Hall) just kind of threw the puck out front and I got it and just kind of took the shot and it went off something and I got it on my backhand and slid it along the ice. It was really exciting, but I'm definitely more happy with a big win."
Kris Letang scored the lone goal in regulation for the Penguins (2-0-1), who earned five of a possible six points on their season opening three-game road trip. Pittsburgh will have its home opener on Tuesday against the Florida Panthers.
The Penguins were without star center Evgeni Malkin, who left the ice after the pregame skate with a lower-body injury that was suffered during Saturday's 5-3 win at Calgary.
Despite the loss, the Penguins headed back for their home opener with 2-0-1 mark on their season-opening swing through Western Canada.
"I certainly like five (points) out of six," coach Dan Bylsma said. "I like getting some wins in some tough places on a road trip. Three (games) in four nights … we played a lot of hockey, and I think it showed. A lot of guys got taxed in different games and different minutes. Two wins and a shootout loss … we're going home with five points. We have to get ready for our home opener now."
Trailing 1-0 with five minutes left in the game, Nugent-Hopkins got his first goal in his first NHL game as he pounced on a loose puck in front of the Penguins' net and slid a backhand shot past Brent Johnson.
Oilers forward Ryan Smyth took a five-minute elbowing major soon afterwards, but Edmonton managed to kill the penalty and forced overtime.
Pittsburgh got on the board just 3:13 into the game via the power play. After the Oilers were whistled for having too many men on the ice, Letang blasted a shot from the point that found its way past Devan Dubnyk, who got the opening-night start over veteran Nikolai Khabibulin.
"He looked big, he looked solid, he was square," Oilers coach Tom Renney said of Dubnyk, who made 33 saves. "He didn't see too many second chances, which is a testimony to the defense. I thought he really collected pucks well. Good first game."
Renney improved to 8-0-0 in season-openers during his time behind the bench with Vancouver, the New York Rangers and the Oilers.
Johnson made a couple of good saves during shorthanded situations to keep Edmonton off the scoreboard. Nugent-Hopkins was denied his first goal earlier in the game as he was robbed in tight after a nice backhand feed from Hemsky.
"We definitely don't want to lose like that, but five out of six points … it's definitely a good trip," said Johnson, who finished with 34 saves. "The guys played great in front of me. Basically, I saw every shot. When the guys play like that in front of you, they make it easier on the goalie to make saves. I congratulate our forwards and our 'D' for a job well done."
Dubnyk was just as solid, as he prevented the Penguins from increasing their lead in the middle of the second period when he dove across the crease to take away an opportunity at an open net from Mark Letestu. Dubnyk was beaten by James Neal in the shootout, but was bailed out by Jordan Eberle and Hemsky.
"I was a little nervous," Dubnyk said of getting the opening-night nod. "It wasn't a ton of nerves … I wasn't nervous about getting scored on or anything, but I just thought some pucks bounced off of me that might not usually do so to start the game. Kind of towards the end of the first period and right as the second period started, I settled in."
The Oilers are off until Thursday, when they'll travel to Minnesota to face the Wild.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.