Edmonton Oilers come back in third to beat Canucks in season opener

WATCH ABOVE: Some recent video about the Edmonton Oilers.

Connor McDavid scored the game-winning goal late in the third period as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Wednesday’s season opener at Rogers Place.

Leon Draisaitl, who scored 50 goals last season, opened the scoring for the Oilers before the game was six minutes old. He took a pass from Zack Kassian in front and whipped a shot past Canucks goaltender Jakob Markstrom.

“He’s a mule out there. A mule with soft, soft hands,” Oilers netminder Mike Smith said of Draisaitl after the game. “Connor (McDavid) does his thing, but Leon is a big part of [our success] too and he brings it in a different way.”
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READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers fall to Flames in pre-season finale

The Canucks pulled even one second after a power play expired in the second period with Vancouver defenceman Alex Edler banging a point shot past Smith.

The Oilers had several chances on a power play later in the frame but Markstrom came up with the stops.

Listen below: Post-game coverage.

The teams traded goals 1:11 apart midway through the third period. Tanner Pearson tipped a point shot to put the Canucks ahead. Kassian came back with a shot over Markstrom’s glove.

“I told you guys before the season, he’s a skilled player,” Draisatil said of Kassian. “I don’t think he gets enough credit a lot of the time for his skillset and his hockey sense.”

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With 5:23 to go, McDavid split the Canucks’ defence and flipped a shot blocker-side on Markstrom.

“That’s why he’s so good. He makes something happen out of nothing,” Draisaitl said of McDavid. “It’s pretty incredible. I wish I was like that.”

Watch below: Edmonton Oilers forwards Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid speak to reporters after Wednesday’s win against the Canucks.

Click to play video: 'Oilers players speak about winning home opener against Canucks' Oilers players speak about winning home opener against Canucks
Oilers players speak about winning home opener against Canucks – Oct 3, 2019

“He’s a good player. You’ve got to give him credit too,” Canucks forward Brandon Sutter said of McDavid. “I thought we did a really good job on him for the most part.

“I’m sure he’ll tell you that too. Our D were up in his face and not giving him much time and space. There were a lot of times where he came back with a ton of speed and when he did, we had guys there. There’s a lot to like about our game tonight and we’ll build on it.” ​

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Listen below: Post-game coverage.

The Canucks applied late pressure with Markstrom pulled. Edler fired a shot off the crossbar in the final second.

“Honestly, for 50 minutes of that game, I thought we were the dominant team out there and played really well, especially on the road coming into a building like this,” Canucks forward Bo Horvat said.

“They have a pretty good hockey team over there with some really high-end skill, and I thought we weathered the storm there pretty well and took it to them the last 50 minutes, but obviously that’s the way it goes. You have to play a full 60 minutes in order to win.”

Draisaitl had a goal and two assists. Smith made 31 saves.

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“Obviously it was a huge team win for our group,” Smith said. “We stuck with it when we got down.

“When we got the lead, I thought we handled ourselves very well and closed a good team out.”

The Oilers are 22-13-5 all-time in season openers. They’ll host the L.A. Kings on Saturday.

— With files from 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott and Scott Johnston

Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ coverage of the Edmonton Oilers.

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