EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers were hoping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would provide inspiration for them.
It took a couple of periods, but he did manage to set them in the right direction, scoring the first goal in a wild third period Monday against the New Jersey Devils.
The Oilers scored four times in the third to erase a 3-0 deficit, then went on to win the game, 5-4, in a shootout. The win was the first NHL victory for Oilers coach Dallas Eakins.
"That reminds me of the [Los Angeles] game last year, where we were down, we scored late, then we scored again to tie the game," Nugent-Hopkins said. "It was a gritty effort. We have it in here. We just have to put it together for a full 60 minutes.
"I think we just stuck together as a team. We knew that we needed to be better, we came out and we played hard. We started to put more pucks to the net and started going there, and that shows what happens when you do that."
Jordan Eberle and David Perron scored for the Oilers in the shootout as Damien Brunner and Ryane Clowe were turned away for the Devils.
Andrew Ference, Perron and Taylor Hall joined Nugent-Hopkins on the scoring sheet for the Oilers. Jaromir Jagr, Brunner, Michael Ryder and Patrik Elias countered for the Devils.
Martin Brodeur, who only faced 11 shots through the first two periods, took the loss, while Jason LaBarbera earned his first victory in goal as an Oiler.
"We didn't do a lot differently than we had in the first two periods," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "I thought we had some chances to extend the lead and didn't, and they found a way to hang around and capitalized on a handful of chances. It's a learning experience for us early in the season, and we've got to be better.
"I don't like leaving points on the table like that, especially after being up 3-0."
Jagr got the Devils on the board 2:59 into the first period, scoring on the opening shot of the game. Brunner increased the Devils' lead at the 8:01 mark, beating LaBarbera with another wrist shot from the high slot.
The goal was the third of the year for Brunner, who signed with the Devils Sept. 24 after being invited to camp on a professional tryout.
In the second, Ryder put the visitors up 3-0, stepping out of the corner and lifting a shot over LaBarbera.
Unable to get anything going offensively through the first two periods, the Oilers were booed off the Rexall Place ice at the intermission.
"I like the way it was in the room in between periods. I thought the roof was going to cave in, in the room here, but everyone seemed to be pretty calm," Perron said. "I wasn't used to that, but we went back out there and showed the character that we had, scored a big power-play goal to get us going, then we went from there.
"I'm glad we bounced back the way we did. To lose the first three would have been a pretty tough way to start the year. I know everyone was pretty eager to get that first win, and now we can look forward to new things and keep moving."
Nugent-Hopkins started the comeback with a goal 5:43 into the third period. The Oilers' center banged in a rebound at the side of the net, spoiling Brodeur's shutout bid and waking up a dormant building.
Ference scored the Oilers' second goal at 9:28 of the period, firing a shot from the point that found its way past Brodeur. Perron tied the game at 11:47, getting to the puck off a faceoff and snapping it past Brodeur. Hall completed the comeback at 13:30 when he was left alone in front of the net and slipped the puck past Brodeur.
"We dominated for most of the game and then took a tough penalty, and from there it got a bit chaotic," Brodeur said. "It was a tough one, I guess. Things like what happened [Monday] don't happen too often. We are a veteran team and we should be able to play better under that kind of pressure. They are a good, young team, but we had them exactly where we wanted them.
"When they got that breath of fresh air, they jumped all over us."
Elias sent the game into overtime with a shorthanded goal with 54 seconds to go in regulation, banking a centering pass off Ference's skate and past LaBarbera.
Until Nugent-Hopkins woke up the home team, it appeared as though Brodeur was on his way to his 122th career shutout. The Oilers are one of three teams Brodeur has never shutout. The Nashville Predators and the San Jose Sharks are the others.
The Devils are still looking for their first win of the year heading into play the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.
The Oilers host the Montreal Canadiens Thursday.
"For two periods, I thought we were trying and we made mistakes," Eakins said. "You're going to make mistakes in the game, but I'm starting to see more good than bad. I just asked them to stay with it and believe in themselves, and they did. They finally got rewarded for their hard work and their patience."