The Edmonton Oilers recovered from a poor start to score a 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks in their season opener Wednesday night at Rogers Place.
“I don’t think we were sharp. I don’t think we were in sync early,” head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We found a way to win the game, and that’s a really good sign, but we can be better and it’s incumbent upon all of us to look at the areas we can be better in.”
Connor McDavid had three goals and an assist while goalie Jack Campbell won his Oilers debut with 33 saves.
“I thought he was excellent. He allowed us to get back into the game,” Woodcroft said of Campbell.
The Canucks scored on two of their first four shots to take a 2-0 lead before the game was four minutes old. Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson stole a pass from Edmonton forward Dylan Holloway and tucked the puck behind Campbell.
Canucks forward J.T. Miller wired a shot over Campbell’s glove on a two-on-one.
“I was pretty fired up and they got two quick ones — two that I’d like to have back,” Campbell said post-game. “It just showed the resiliency in our team. I thought we did a great job of staying focused and we had a lot of big blocks on the penalty kill to give ourselves a chance to come back.”
Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse took an interference penalty as the first period ended.
Miller set up Andre Kuzmenko for a tap-in on the power play 39 seconds into the second.
A few minutes later, on an Oilers power play, Leon Draisaitl slid the puck under a stickless Thatcher Demko to get Edmonton on the board.
After the Canucks were penalized for too many men, McDavid finished off a slick passing play to pull the Oilers within a goal.
“It was a great play by everybody,” McDavid said. “I think everyone touched the puck within six or seven seconds. We have some great players out there that have been together for a long time, and we’ve been a good power play for a long time. We’re comfortable with each other and now where we’re going to be.”
In the final minute of the second, Nurse ripped home a pass from Draisaitl on a shorthanded two-on-one to tie it 3-3.
“We were calm and trusted our process. We wanted to play a more direct game and I felt we did that in the third,” Nurse said after the game. “Good teams find ways to we and we did that tonight.”
With 4:59 left in the third, Zach Hyman freed the puck for McDavid, who buried his own rebound to give the Oilers the lead. It was McDavid’s 700th career point. He would complete the hat trick into an empty net in the final minute.
“It’s not going to be perfect every night. Sometimes you need to win with your B or C game, and it was certainly not our A game to start, but we found a way to get our legs going and get back into it,” McDavid said.
“The amount of work he puts in and dedication he has for this game, he’s earned every point and every accolade he’s got so far,” Darnell Nurse said of his captain.
The Oilers will host the Calgary Flames on Saturday. You can listen to live coverage of the game on 630 CHED, beginning with The Faceoff Show at 6:30 p.m. The actual game starts at 8 p.m.
— With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED