The Oilers play in Vancouver on Sunday at 7 p.m. MT You can listen to it live on 630 CHED or watch on Sportsnet.
CALGARY, AB – Flames fans began the game booing every time 2015 first-overall pick Connor McDavid touched the puck, but by the end of the game the Oilers rookie all but silenced the hostile crowd.
McDavid scored his second and third career NHL goals to help hand the Flames a 5-2 loss in Calgary. All four of the Oilers first-overall picks scored a goal to lift the Oilers to their first win of the season. It also marks the end to a streak in which the Flames won seven straight against the Oilers.
“Best game yet, I think from Connor,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “He made an impact throughout the night. He had an impact on the score sheet. He probably could have had more of an impact there with some of the chances he had. I thought he finally let himself go and kind of gave himself permission. Sometimes you have to do that to get after it. He’s a young player. You don’t have to give way to the veterans all the time. You’re allowed to go out and take charge. I thought he did that tonight.”
The win also marks the first victory for McLellan as coach of the Oilers.
“It’s not important that it’s my first win, it’s our first win. The team, the group, the organization, the staff, it’s certainly not about me,” said McLellan. “It feels good to finally get a reward… It’s been getting better. Guys are starting to understand a little bit more of their roles in situational play and we played a solid game. We deserved to win tonight.”
A few of the Oilers chances at the start of the game came from their line of Benoit Pouliot, McDavid and Nail Yakupov. A minute into the game, Pouliot kicked the puck up to himself and set up Yakupov in the slot but Jonas Hiller made the save. Less than a minute later, Yakupov looked for Pouliot backdoor but the two couldn’t finish.
Cam Talbot made a nice stop on Michael Ferland a few moments later to keep things scoreless.
In Battle of Alberta fashion, things heated up when Oilers forward Luke Gazdic and Calgary defenceman Deryk Engelland dropped the gloves at 6:06. Gazdic managed to gain leverage and land a couple punches late in the quick scrap before the referees broke things up.
The Oilers struck first at 12:59. Eric Gryba shot the puck on net and Hiller let out a juicy rebound, which was promptly buried by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Taylor Hall recorded the second assist as Edmonton took a 1-0 lead.
The Flames tied the game at 5:07 of the second period. David Jones got a piece of Dennis Wideman’s point shot and it trickled under the pads of Talbot. Ferland earned the second assist.
McDavid was rewarded for his excellent play in the game with his second career goal at 16:31 of the middle frame. Yakupov passed the puck to the 2015 first-overall pick and he accelerated down the right wing and fired a shot past Hiller. McDavid’s goal gave Edmonton a 2-1 lead heading into the third.
It took just 25 seconds into the third for Edmonton to take a 3-1 lead. Following a faceoff win by Matt Hendricks and a shot on goal by Oscar Klefbom, Taylor Hall battled in the crease and banged home the loose puck.
“I think our second periods have been a little bit rough and for us to come in the second intermission with the lead, I think that gave us a lot of confidence. We didn’t change the way we played. We just kept going,” said Hall.
Yakupov decided to get in on the scoring party at 2:59 of the third. McDavid and Pouliot each recorded assists but it was Yakupov’s one-timer that found twine for the 4-1 lead.
Moments later, McDavid was robbed by Hiller after a superb move with the puck. Edmonton continued the pressuring pace.
“Did he score?,” Talbot joked of McDavid’s night. “It’s great to see him get some confidence. Obviously, he got a goal in Dallas there and I think that kind of took the weight off his shoulders a little bit. He played a little more loose last game and then tonight he was just all over the puck. Even that one move, Hiller made an unbelievable save. 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. Obviously, you can see his confidence growing game by game and we’re all just going to build off that, feed off that line and hopefully he can rally the guys and hopefully he can keep putting the puck in the net.”
Jones ended the Oilers undisturbed goal run with his second of the game at 10:14 of the final period. The power play goal was assisted by Wideman and cut the Oilers lead to 4-2.
McDavid made it a 5-2 game with his second goal of the night. It was Hall who set up the rookie with an excellent pass across the face of Hiller with 3:40 to go in the game.
“I think first and foremost, the team played very well,” said McDavid. “When the team has success, that’s when individuals start to have success. I think you saw that tonight. Obviously, it feels pretty good to get the first win.”
The four first-overall picks of the Oilers accounted for five goals and four assists in the game.
“Did they all get a goal? That’s an interesting stat,” said McLellan.