Edmonton Oilers surge in 3rd period to ice Penguins

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Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists as the Edmonton Oilers scored a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday night at Rogers Place.

Zach Hyman scored on the Oilers’ first shot of the game 6:52 into the first, wristing the puck past the blocker of Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry.

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“We should have a few of our players stop looking at the iPad and start looking at Zach Hyman out there,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said after the game.

“He plays the game honest. He plays the game hard. You talk about getting your nose over the puck and competing for loose pucks, (Hyman) is the epitome of that.”

Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel pounded a one-timer behind Edmonton netminder Mikko Koskinen to tie it, but the Oilers regained the lead on a two-on-one. McDavid set up Hyman for his 11th goal of the season.

“We kind of held on for the first 40 minutes,” McDavid said.

“Mikko did a good job as usual and I thought our young defence did a good job of stepping in and trying to keep the game simple.”

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Teddy Blueger pulled the Pens even exactly one minute into the second.

Hyman had a chance for the hat trick on a shorthanded breakaway but was foiled by Jarry.

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Early in the third, Oilers forward Kailer Yamamoto notched his fifth goal of the season by deflecting a Tyson Barrie point shot.

“We were better in the third. We turned the puck over far too much in the first couple (of periods),” Tippett said.

“We had no rhythm to our game whatsoever — just batting it around like it was a tennis ball. We still turned it over a few times but at least we worked to get it back in the third.”

Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby (87) skates past as Edmonton Oilers’ Tyson Barrie (22) and Zach Hyman (18) celebrate a goal during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Five minutes after Yamamoto’s goal, with the teams playing four-on-four, Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard tapped in a feed from McDavid to make it 4-2.

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Hyman tapped in a pass from McDavid with 8:35 left, but his first career hat-trick was negated when the Penguins successfully challenged for offside.

“I think eventually (the hat-trick) will happen, and I’m happy to score when I can and help the team win,” Hyman said.

McDavid sealed the win with an empty-netter.

Edmonton Oilers’ Kris Russell (6), Zach Hyman (18), Connor McDavid (97) and Zack Kassian (44) celebrate a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during first period NHL action in Edmonton on Wednesday, December 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Defenceman Markus Niemelainen made his NHL debut and played 10:19 for the Oilers.

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“I got hit pretty hard in the first period so that kind of woke me up,” Niemelainen said of his first game.

“It’s been great to see the young d-men come in and play well,” McDavid said.

“Obviously it’s a long year and there’s going to be injuries and there’s going to be things that happen where you need that depth, and I think the guys have done a great job of stepping in and picking up where we left off.”

Koskinen made 32 saves to improve to 12-2.

Before the game, Oilers defenceman Kris Russell was presented with a commemorative belt buckle. He became the NHL’s all-time leader in blocked shots Saturday against Vegas.

The Oilers (16-5) will play in Seattle on Friday.

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With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED

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