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McDavid has three points, Oilers defeat Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Connor McDavid had two goals and an assist to help the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-2 victory against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday in Todd McLellan's first win as Oilers coach.

"Best game yet, I think, from Connor," McLellan said. "He made an impact throughout the night. Had an impact on the score sheet, probably could've had more of an impact there even with some of the chances he had. I thought he finally let himself go and gave himself permission. Sometimes you have to do that to get after it. You don't have to, as a young player, give way to the veterans all the time. You're allowed to go out and take charge, and I thought he did that tonight."

Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov also scored for Edmonton (1-4-0). The Oilers entered having lost seven in a row to the Flames, including a five-game season-series sweep in 2014-15 that saw Calgary outscore them 21-8.

McDavid helped put an end to that.

"He was great," Hall said. "He's got all the tools to take over games, and that's what he did tonight and it was fun tonight. I hope he gets a lot of confidence from that game, because that's a tough building to come in and play and a really good road game for our team."

David Jones scored twice for Calgary (1-4-0), which has lost all three games at Saddledome and three in a row overall. It's the first time the Flames have lost their first three home games since 2000-01.

"There's two things we can do about it -- piss and moan about it, or we can go to work," defenseman Kris Russell said. "But we've been saying that for a while. We've got to quit talking. We've got to prove something here.

"It's not X's and O's at this point. Individually, we have to look ourselves in the mirror and we've got to want it more. The guy we line up beside at each and every draw, we've got to win the 1-on-1's. When a teammate falls, we've got to pick him up. We've got to be there to support, and right now we're not. But I believe in this group. We've had little (skids) like this before, last year, but the only way we're going to get out of it is hard work."

The Flames played without 19-year-old forward Sam Bennett, who was a late scratch and is day-to-day because of an upper-body injury.

The game was tied 1-1 when McDavid went to work in the second period.

After picking up Yakupov's pass in the neutral zone, McDavid raced into the Flames zone and snapped a shot that went through the legs of Russell before beating Hiller to give Edmonton a 2-1 lead at 16:31.

"Russell was just backing in, and I know he's one of the top shot-blockers in the NHL," McDavid said. "I was fortunate enough to get one through him, and whenever it goes through him, it's hard for a goalie to pick it up."

It was almost short-lived, but Oilers goalie Cam Talbot came up strong in denying Flames captain Mark Giordano in the slot on a shorthanded 3-on-1 opportunity with 59 seconds remaining in the period.

It took the Oilers 25 seconds to extend their lead in the third. Hall redirected Oscar Klefbom's centering feed from just off the goal line behind Hiller to put Edmonton up 3-1. McDavid quickly helped bump it to three, scooping up the puck on a Giordano bobble behind the Flames net before sending a no-look pass to Benoit Pouliot, who spotted Yakupov to Hiller's left for a tap-in at 2:59.

McDavid, the No. 1 selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, almost put the Oilers up four a minute later, stripping Brett Kulak at the Calgary blue line before working his way in alone on Hiller, who made a desperation save with the paddle of his stick to keep the game 4-1.

"Hiller made an unbelievable save," said Talbot, who made 22 saves in his first win with the Oilers. "I mean, for an 18-year-old kid to come in here and make that kind of move and have that kind of poise with the puck is pretty incredible. You can see his confidence growing game by game."

With McDavid called for hooking, the first minor penalty of his NHL career, Jones worked the Flames back within two. He darted into the Edmonton zone and fired a shot that changed directions after clipping the skate of Oilers defenseman Mark Fayne to beat Talbot over the glove at 10:14. It was his third goal.

McDavid scored his second of the night and third of the season with 3:40 remaining, batting a cross-crease pass from Hall past Hiller to extend the Oilers lead to 5-2.

"I think I'm just getting more and more comfortable," McDavid said. "It's only been five games in. I'm starting to feel better about it."

After hitting the post 9:45 into the game, Nugent-Hopkins made good on his second attempt when he scored the only goal of the first period. Defenseman Eric Gryba sent a one-timer through a screen that Flames goaltender Jonas Hiller kicked back onto the stick of Nugent-Hopkins, who scored before Hiller could recover to put Edmonton up 1-0 at 12:59.

Jones tied the game 1-1 at 5:07 of the second, deflecting Dennis Wideman's rising point shot under the left pad of Talbot.

The Oilers hired McLellan as the 14th coach in their history on May 19 after he spent the previous seven seasons with the San Jose Sharks.

"It's not important that it's my first win," McLellan said. "It's our first win, the team, the group, the organization, the staff. It's certainly not about me. It feels good to finally get a reward. I think our game has been getting better minus the Dallas game. It's getting better. Guys are starting to understand a little bit more of the roles and situational play. We played a solid game. We deserved to win tonight."

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