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Oilers' McDavid still feeling good after five-point game

Edmonton rookie fitting in well on line with Eberle and Pouliot

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

McDavid's five-point game

TOR@EDM: McDavid nets two, five points in victory

2/11/16: Connor McDavid has a part in all of the Oilers' goals, collecting two goals and three assists in a 5-2 victory over the Maple Leafs

  • 01:19 •

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid received a number of congratulatory messages following his five-point game Thursday in a 5-2 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

McDavid scored two goals and had three assists in his most productive game of the season, and helped right wing Jordan Eberle get his first NHL hat trick after 17 two-goal games. McDavid assisted on all three of Eberle's goals.

"It was nice to see all the support from friends and family," McDavid said Friday. "It's always nice to see that support. It's a good feeling coming back after a game like that. It's good to come back to the rink and feel good about yourself. More importantly, though, I think the team is feeling better after a win like that." 

McDavid, who is from the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill, Ontario, grew up cheering for the Maple Leafs, and the game Thursday was his first against them. 

It turned out to be a memorable night for him. 

"I think that it was against the Leafs, that was special to me," McDavid said. "To play against them and play a game like that for the first time, that was pretty cool." 

McDavid, 19, has four goals and eight assists in six games since returning to the lineup after recovering from a broken left clavicle sustained Nov. 3. 

He missed 37 games because of the injury and now is on a higher-scoring pace than prior to getting hurt; he had five goals and seven assists in 13 games prior to his injury. 

"I believe in myself and I definitely believe in the work that I was doing with the coaching staff and the training staff here when I was hurt," McDavid said. "We had three months to prepare. That's a lot of time off and a lot of time to get everything going and feeling healthy again. With three months off, I thought I would be a little bit rusty. But at the same time, I knew I would have the legs there because I had been skating for so long."

Video: McDavid, Eberle power Oilers past Maple Leafs

In 19 games this season, McDavid has nine goals and 24 points. He is tied for 11th in rookie scoring with Sam Reinhart of the Buffalo Sabres despite playing 33 games fewer than Reinhart. 

"I don't think 'surprise' is a good word anymore [with McDavid] because he's doing it consistently," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "There are still some things in the game where you stand back and go 'wow,' and I think we'll have more of those games as we go forward. But it's still a hard game for him. He needs help from his linemates and they've done a real good job too. The focal point will be just on Connor, but I think that group of three has done a very good job since they've been together." 

McDavid and linemates Eberle and left wing Benoit Pouliot combined for 13 points against Toronto. 

Eberle missed the first 13 games of the season because of a shoulder injury and had not played with McDavid until the rookie returned from his injury Feb. 2. 

"I don't think it's just Connor and I," Eberle said. "Pouliot is there as well, and we all bring something to the line that works. That being said, it's early. We've only played six games and you don't want to get too high. We've had a couple of good games and a couple of bad games too. Chemistry, like I've said before, is a thing that doesn't just happen. It's something that grows over time and we've only played a short stint of games here. We have lots of hockey left." 

Eberle's goal-scoring prowess complements McDavid's ability to read the game at a high level and find the open man. 

McDavid set up Eberle with an excellent cross-ice pass for his second goal, and then sent him alone on an empty net for the hat-trick goal. 

"He [McDavid] is obviously a great passer," Eberle said. "If you get open, you have to be ready for the puck. Pouliot has that ability too. And when you play with two guys like that, you have to be able to find open ice and get into soft spots where you're able to use your shots." 

Eberle has seven goals and three assists in six games on a line with McDavid. The Oilers host the Winnipeg Jets at Rexall Place on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports) in the second game of a six-game homestand. 

"He [Eberle] is an unbelievable finisher," McDavid said. "He's so good around the net. He's got those quick little hands and a very deceiving shot. He's a guy that is fun to pass to, because you know most times he's going to put it in the back of the net. We're talking all the time away from the rink and trying to figure out where each other are going to be and start thinking on the same wavelength. It's been a pretty good start so far for the both of us, and I just hope to keep that going." 

With 26 games left in the season, McDavid's play is generating conversation about the possibility of winning the Calder Trophy despite missing a large amount of time. 

"That's not really up for me to decide," McDavid said. "I'm just going to do the best I can to play my game and do whatever I can to help the team win. At the end of the year, if that's what they see fit, then that's good. And if it's not, then it's almost expected."

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