Leon Draisaitl doesn’t look satisfied with the career-high 50 goals and 105 points he amassed last season.
Draisaitl had a goal and two assists as the Edmonton Oilers opened the 2019-20 NHL season with a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.
Connor McDavid broke a 2-2 deadlock with five-and-a-half minutes to play, splitting the defence before beating Jacob Markstrom to the blocker side on a strong solo effort.
“We made it easy on each other,” Draisaitl said. “We played simple, we played hard, and we did what we had to do to beat this team.”
Zack Kassian also scored for the Oilers (1-0-0) and added an assist.
“Leon was a horse, as he always is,” McDavid said. “Kass brought a lot of energy tonight, like he does as well. It was a real good start for those two and something I look forward to watching all season long.”
New Oilers head coach Dave Tippett was impressed by Draisaitl’s play.
“What you like about him is he’s a dominant player out there,” he said. “You’re in a tight game. He’s got lots of juice, so we kept (putting) him out there.”
Alexander Edler and Tanner Pearson replied for the Canucks (0-1-0), who had won their previous five season-openers.
“There were a couple of minutes that we’d like to have back,” Pearson said. “That’s the way it goes, those minutes can cost you the game.”
The Oilers started the scoring six minutes into the first period when Kassian won a battle in the crease and fed the puck out to Draisaitl, who beat Markstrom.
Edmonton goalie Mike Smith kept that lead intact through the first, making a huge toe save on J.T. Miller.
Vancouver tied the game 12 minutes into the second period, though, shortly after a power play expired as a long-range bomb by Edler seemed to hit something in front and get past Smith.
The Canucks then took a 2-1 lead midway through the third as a point blast by Tyler Myers was tipped past Smith by Pearson.
Just over a minute later, the Oilers knotted the game back up as Kassian picked the top corner after taking a pass from Draisaitl.
Smith ended up with 31 saves.
“It was a huge team win,” Smith said. “We never crumbled when we got down 2-1. You love to win so it feels good to get that first one under our belts.”
Markstrom stopped 19 shots.
Both teams return to action Saturday. The Oilers host the Los Angeles Kings, while the Canucks head to Calgary to face the Flames.
It was Dave Tippett’s debut as head coach of the Oilers, having won 553 NHL games as a coach in 14 seasons with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars. Notable players making their debuts for Edmonton included forward James Neal and Smith in net Among those making their debuts for the Canucks were rookie defenceman Quinn Hughes, forwards Miller and Micheal Ferland and defencemen Myers and Jordie Benn It is the 50th season for the Canucks, who have opted not to officially name their captain for this season until their home opener.