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GAME STORY: Oilers 2, Devils 1

Matthew Benning scored his first NHL goal and Mark Letestu netted the overtime winner as the Oilers beat the Devils 2-1

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

Video: OILERS TODAY | at Devils PostGame

NEWARK, NJ - Mark Letestu's special teams prowess continued on Saturday night as he scored the overtime winner on the PP as the Oilers defeated the New Jersey Devils 2-1.

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Edmonton's final game of this road trip is Sunday in Ottawa at 5 p.m. MT. The game can be seen on Sportsnet or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.

Letestu blasted home the sudden-death power-play marker with 61 seconds left in the extra frame to give Edmonton its second straight win and a come-from-behind victory at that after they trailed 1-0 for a large chunk of the game.

Cory Schneider was the big reason for the early deficit as the Devils goalie ended up making 41 saves on the night.

"Tonight was a pretty good example of us sticking with the game plan," the OT hero Letestu said. "We had a lot of jump, we were in on a lot of forechecks, in the battles, coming up with pucks. Their goaltender played well, but nobody got frustrated. We knew eventually we were going to get one."

The veteran centre now has eight goals on the season, with four of them coming on the PP and two shorthanded.

The Oilers established quite a physical presence early in the opening frame, with Patrick Maroon sending Ben Lovejoy to the ice in a heap, and Eric Gryba flattening his former teammate Taylor Hall with a thundering check shortly thereafter.

The Devils struck the first blow on the scoreboard, however, as rookie winger Miles Wood burst down the left wing, accelerated past Gryba and beat Cam Talbot five-hole with a deke to his backhand. The nifty opening tally was the fifth of Wood's fresh 23-game NHL career.

Despite surrendering the opening goal, the Oilers dominated the first period to the tune of a 16-7 shot advantage, but they couldn't beat Schneider and trailed 1-0 through 20 minutes.

The Oilers continued to control the game in the middle frame, outshooting the Devils 14-6, but Schneider continued to shut the door as the home side carried their 1-0 advantage into the third.

New Jersey's goalie had Connor McDavid's number, especially. The NHL's scoring leader had six shots on goal through 40 minutes, often dangling around opposing defenders only to be denied by Schneider in a one-on-one showdown.

"Offensively, we were really good," the captain said. "We had so many chances, chances that should have gone in, myself especially."

The Devils came within a few inches of extending their lead to 2-0 late in the second, but McDavid corralled the loose puck out of the crease and away from danger.

The Oilers finally broke their goose egg 3:33 into the third period. The equalizer came in milestone fashion as it was defenceman Matt Benning's first NHL goal thanks to a seeing-eye point shot that squeaked through Schneider's pads with Matt Hendricks providing an effective screen in front.

Hendricks was actually initially credited with the goal, but it was rightly changed to Benning's after the off-ice officials reviewed the play.

"I just buried my head, tried to get it to the net and I guess it worked out," the rookie d-man said. "I didn't even hear them announce it… I was just happy that we tied up the game and gave ourselves a chance. Whether it went to me or Hendo, I knew I'd get my first eventually."

"Matty's played well for us, played a lot of minutes," Head Coach Todd McLellan said. "To get his first and make it that important is nice to see. The guys were really happy for him tonight."

Neither team scored again by the end of regulation, sending the game into sudden death. The Oilers outshot the Devils 39-19 through 60 minutes, adding four more in OT with the last one off Letestu's stick serving as the game-winner.

"We played a real good game," McLellan said. "We held onto pucks, we wore them down in their end. They played the night before, and there have been some times this year where we haven't done that to teams. We were patient enough to stick with it, didn't have to open it up much and eventually got the win, but it took a lot of work to get it."

Despite not scoring on his eight shots, McDavid did get an assist on Letestu's OT winner to give him 46 points - three more than Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin for the NHL lead. 

With the 19-save victory, Talbot secured his 20th win of the season, tying him with Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk and Boston's Tuukka Rask for second in the league.

Edmonton's four-game Eastern Conference road swing concludes on Sunday with the second half of the weekend back-to-back against the Ottawa Senators. It's the friendly confines of Rogers Place for six games in a row after that, including the season series finale against the Devils coming up on Thursday.

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