The reigning NHL MVP picked up right where he left off last season in the first game of the Edmonton Oilers’ new NHL season.
Connor McDavid netted a hat trick, pacing the Oilers to a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place on Wednesday night.
“No never, it’s nice, it’s a good way to start,” said McDavid when asked if he’s ever recorded a hat trick on opening night in his young hockey career.
McDavid’s performance will be all over the highlights, but overall the Oilers played a sound hockey game from start to finish.
WATCH BELOW: Prior to their NHL regular season home opener against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, the Edmonton Oilers honoured Const. Michael Chernyk, who was one of the victims in Saturday’s attacks in Edmonton.
“There’s two parts to it. You need leadership and you need everyone to follow and Connor provided that,” said Oilers head Coach Todd McLellan on his captain’s performance.
“The win is important, the way we won, the ability to defend was important for us. When we started last year I thought we were outscoring our mistakes. Tonight we didn’t make any of them, so we didn’t need to do that.”
Flames coach Glen Gulutzan also saw the game break down in a similar fashion
“They beat us in almost every department,” Gulutzan said. “They won the battles on the wall, they were clean in their breakouts, they made plays, they got the pucks to the net, I thought their team was just all around better than us tonight.”
WATCH BELOW: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2017 NHL regular season home opener.
The Oilers opened the scoring 11:01 into the game. Patrick Maroon kept the puck alive off the rebound and delivered a short pass to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl’s sharp angle shot was stopped by Calgary goaltender Mike Smith, but McDavid was open to bang in the rebound.
Flames forward Sean Monahan had a great chance to tie the game with six minutes left in the second period, but his point-blank try was stopped by Cam Talbot.
Other than that chance for Monahan, the Oilers were able to lock down the Flames’ attack for most of the night.
“Everyone was making a big deal about their defence, but what about our defence?” McDavid added.
“They were great, moving the pucks up to the forwards. That’s what we get paid to do.”
McDavid showed off his speed with his second goal of the game in the third. He chased a loose puck down the right wing, went in behind the Calgary defence and flicked a shot over Smith’s right shoulder.
“He’s frightening. I mean he’s just so fast,” said Smith. “You’ve just got to be patient. He’s got so many tricks up his sleeve that you try to make him make the first move but it’s more difficult than it is to say that.”
McDavid completed the hat trick into an empty net with 59 seconds left.
Talbot made 26 saves for the shutout. He was pleased with his performance but he gave most of the credit to his teammates.
“Not just the defence, our forwards came back and we played as a five man unit in our own zone. There wasn’t any missed assignments throughout the night,” said the Oilers goaltender.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen a better team game from this group in a long time. Give our group a lot of credit. I didn’t have to do much tonight.”
McDavid’s hat trick marked the second time in his NHL career he has scored three goals in a game.
The Oilers have won five straight against the Flames. They’ll visit Vancouver to play the Canucks on Saturday.
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