The Edmonton Oilers kicked-off the home portion of their pre-season schedule with an exciting 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place.
Making his debut of the NHL pre-season was none other than 2015 NHL Draft number-one pick, Connor McDavid.
“There’s obviously nerves and excitement just going into the game and it takes a little bit to settle down,” said McDavid.
“I was a little nervous there in the first period, I wasn’t patient with the puck and wasn’t playing my game, but I guess that’s to be expected with so much hype about playing your first kind of NHL game.”
The split-squad game saw Oilers head coach Todd McLellan behind the bench in Edmonton to coach the home game at Rexall Place.
“I thought we got better as the night went on. I thought we were a little tentative, a little bit ragged early, but we did get better as the night went on,” said McLellan.
“We saw some things, both positive and negative that we’ve worked on and have evidence now and we can go to the players with and improve our game.”
As the Oilers took to the ice, the starting line-up saw Cam Talbot take position as starting goaltender for the night.
After a number of shooting attempts made in the first period, it wasn’t until 5:27 left on the clock that the Oilers took a 1-0 lead thanks to Andrew Miller’s sharp shooting through the pads of Calgary Flames goalie Karri Ramo, assisted by Ryan Hamilton and Jordan Oesterle.
But Kylington responded at the 15:14 mark, placing the puck just to the right of Talbot, skimming his pads to make it a 1-1 game.
“I like the fact that we shot the puck a lot and got it back,” said McLellan. “We had a lot of shooting attempts. I didn’t like as many being blocked as they were though, that needs to improve.”
Fans were on the edge of their seats each time McDavid’s stick touched the puck, waiting in sweet anticipation for him to find the back of the Flames net with each shot.
“I thought (McDavid) looked dangerous, I thought he had the puck he played well on both sides of it. Had a couple good scoring chances, got what we expected for day one,” said McLellan.
Talbot’s exceptional goalkeeping kept the Oilers alive in much of the first-half of the second period, but eventually Flames centre Markus Granlund found the back of the Oilers net with 6:32 left in the second period, taking a 2-1 lead.
As the clock continued counting down in the third period, Oilers fans saw McDavid set up line-mate Taylor Hall for a direct shot on net, but to no avail.
Though Oilers saw a window of opportunity when Flames Garnet Hathaway received a two-minute penalty.
Giving the Flames a one-two punch, McDavid passed Draisaitl the puck who in turn delivered it into the back of McDonald’s net to tie-up the game at two a piece.
“We talked about it obviously in the dressing room, we wanted to come back with a push and as a team we did a very good job,” said Draisaitl.
“That’s something I think that the organization has to do better. To push back in games when you’re behind. I think it was a great job as a team.”
Oilers captain Andrew Ference received a two-minute penalty for hooking, leaving the Oilers shorthanded at 14:41, but Anton Lander was quick to make a play unassisted, placing the puck in the back of the Flames net and edging the Oilers forward on the scoreboard for a 3-2 lead.
With 1:21 left in the third the Flames pulled McDonald for a man advantage but with a beautiful save by Oilers goaltender Laurent Brossoit the puck found Yakupov’s stick who placed a strong shot into the back of the net, assisted by Sekera and McDavid.
“There was some good stuff, some stuff to improve on for sure,” said McDavid. “I think the main thing is the resiliency the team showed late in the game to battle back like that.”