Buffalo, New York – For much of last season, it looked like Connor McDavid might end up with the Buffalo Sabres. The first overall pick in last year’s NHL draft got to show the city what it’s missing on Tuesday night.
McDavid scored twice, including in overtime, to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 2-1 victory over the Sabres in an anticipated matchup against another top rookie, Jack Eichel.
McDavid and Eichel provided a buzz for this one even though the Oilers and Sabres are both among the NHL’s bottom five teams. Eichel was picked right after McDavid in last year’s draft, and both players are considered potentially generational talents.
As has been the case with the humble rookie, McDavid downplayed the matchup with Eichel before and after the game.
“To be honest, that’s not a big deal,” McDavid said. “I keep saying this game was a big deal for me because it was in front of friends and family. It just feels good to get the win in front of them.”
McDavid grew up in suburban Toronto and played junior hockey 150 km away in Erie, Pennsylvania.
McDavid scored 22 seconds into the game, and then got the winner by blowing past Buffalo’s defense seconds after Eichel spun around a defender and missed just wide with a twirling backhand attempt.
“I probably should have kept going on my forehand, just try to take it to the net,” Eichel said. “Tough bounce. Break them out, and the puck ends up in the back of our net.”
It’s not as if Eichel didn’t have his chances. He tied for the team-lead with five shots on goal.
“I thought (Eichel) and (McDavid) were the two best players on the ice tonight,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said.
Capitals 3, Penguins 2
In Washington, Matt Niskanen scored the winner during a third-period power play.
Blues 4, Senators 3 (SO)
In Ottawa, Patrik Berglund scored the shootout winner in the 11th round.
Bruins 2, Flames 1
in Boston, Patrice Bergeron scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:24 left.
Hurricanes 3, Devils 1
In Newark, New Jersey, Joakim Nordstrom scored on a rebound with 1:29 remaining.
Wild 6, Avalanche 3
In St. Paul, Minnesota, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter each scored twice.
Predators 5, Stars 3
In Nashville, Shea Weber had a goal and two assists in his return from a three-game absence.
Panthers 3, Jets 2
In Winnipeg, Reilly Smith had two goals and Jaromir Jagr scored the winner.
Islanders 3, Canucks 2
In Vancouver, Thomas Hickey scored the tiebreaking goal.