The Oilers close out their road trip in Toronto on Monday. Game time is 5:30 p.m. MT and can be seen on TVAS and Sportsnet, as well as heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
PITTSBURGH, PA– Anders Nilsson made 39 saves as the Oilers win their first game in Pittsburgh since January 10, 2006, a 3-2 shootout decision.
“It feels good to win. The guys got a good reward,” said Head Coach Todd McLellan. “I thought we had a good effort from a lot of players. It was open. I’m not sure if that favoured us or them. Obviously in the end, it was us but it was probably a little too open. We buckled down when we needed to… I think our goaltender played exceptionally well when we needed him.”
The Oilers got off to a fast start with Leon Draisaitl scoring his eighth goal of the season just 2:02 into the game. Taylor Hall redirected a light shot off the pad of Jeff Zatkoff and Draisaitl was there at the top of the crease to pounce on the rebound.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins slid into Zatkoff after being tripped by Rob Scuderi, giving the Oilers a power play at 7:25 of the first. Five seconds later, Edmonton increased their lead.
With Lauri Korpikoski screening Zatkoff in front of the net, Andrej Sekera fired a point shot through traffic. Korpikoski tipped it past the goaltender at 7:30 for the 2-0 lead.
Nilsson made a couple big saves in the first, or else his team might not have had a two-goal lead heading into the middle frame. One of those saves was a 2-on-1 opportunity and shot by Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin would have a brilliant second period, helping Pittsburgh tie things up with two goals in the first 3:30 of the frame.
“The first one was a fabulous goal by a world-class player,” said McLellan. “It started with a strip in the neutral zone. They Datysuk and Malkin-type players are very skilled at stripping pucks. That’s a mistake we shouldn’t allow. After that, we had a little hole on the backend. I guess from an entertaining value, we get to watch that a number of times but it’s not nice watching it live because you’re on the wrong end of it.”
At 48 seconds, Malkin spun around and fired a shot with a highlight reel move that made it 2-1.
“Great hockey goal,” said Nilsson. “You have to tip your hat. I give him a lot of credit for that one. He stole the puck from us and then made a spin-o-rama move and then went bardown. You don’t see that very often. Nice goal and you have to tip your hat.”
At 3:29, the Penguins forward blasted a slap shot past Nilsson for the equalizer on the power play, assisted by Kris Letang.
The Oilers had a chance to take back the lead in the third, but Benoit Pouliot was stopped by Zatkoff on a penalty shot at 4:56.
Jujhar Khaira, playing in his first NHL game for the Oilers, nearly gave Edmonton the lead with 6:04 left to play in regulation. Khaira intercepted a pass and whipped it on net but couldn’t bury.
With the game tied at two after three periods, the teams took their duel to 3-on-3 overtime. It marked back-to-back overtime games for the Oilers, who lost 4-3 in OT the night before to the Detroit Red Wings.
Nilsson made some huge saves in overtime. One was on Sidney Crosby, who went to the net. Then came a flurry of saves from the Oilers netminder as he went to the ice and moved the puck away.
“He was tremendous tonight,” said McLellan. “He made save after save and not a lot of garbage laying around. When there was, our D did a fairly good job of clearing it out. They’re a very skilled, talented team. They’re going to get chances. They’re going to get shots from prime scoring areas. Your goaltender has to be good and he certainly was tonight.”
Oscar Klefbom drew a penalty on Crosby by pulling away with the puck on Zatkoff. The Oilers couldn’t capitalize on the man advantage and the game went to a shootout.
Nilsson improved to 5-0 all-time in shootouts by stopping David Perron and Malkin, while Matt Hendricks and Jordan Eberle both scored for the Oilers.