Connor McDavid wanted to start things right at Rogers Place, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers.
McDavid scored two goals and added an assist as Edmonton defeated the rival Calgary Flames 7-4 on Wednesday night after a pre-game ceremony where former Oilers greats Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier figuratively passed the torch to the 19-year-old phenom.
“The anticipation for this game was huge and the fans were excited and all the greats were in the building,” said McDavid. “It was an exciting night for our whole organization and it was a good way to start it.
“I’m kind of happy it’s over. I’ll definitely take a lot of good memories from tonight and move on with those.”
Patrick Maroon, Tyler Pitlick, Zack Kassian, Jordan Eberle and Jesse Puljujarvi also scored for the Oilers (1-0-0), who officially opened their lavish new Rogers Place building in front of 18,550 fans.
Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan said that McDavid definitely grabbed a hold of the game in the second period.
“He was Connor. He was our leader. He had fire in his eyes,” he said.
Alex Chiasson, Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik and Dennis Wideman responded for the Flames (0-1-0).
“I don’t think that was the way that anybody drew it up,” said Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan. “We all have shared responsibility We all need to be better.”
The first-ever shot in Rogers Place yielded the first-ever goal as Maroon tipped a Leon Draisaitl shot past Flames goalie Brian Elliott 1:10 into the game.
Chiasson responded for the Flames just 36 seconds later, swinging out from behind the net and then batting in his own rebound behind Oilers starter Cam Talbot.
Edmonton made it 2-1 five minutes into the opening period, scoring on their second-ever shot in their new building as well, as Pitlick elected to shoot himself on a two-on-one break and beat Elliott up high.
Kassian added to the Oilers’ lead with five minutes left in the first, taking a long pass from Oscar Kelfbom and making a nifty move to undress Elliott.
Elliott was not sharp in Calgary’s net, allowing six goals on 28 Edmonton shots.
“It was kind of one of those nights where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” he said. “That’s not the way you want to start the season.”
Calgary closed to within a goal midway through the second as Brouwer intercepted a pass and scored on a short-handed breakaway.
The Flames scored another short-handed goal with nine minutes left, as Edmonton’s Milan Lucic failed to clear a loose puck in front and Frolik whacked it in.
McDavid put Edmonton back in front, banking in a backhand shot for his second point of the game. He then scored his second goal of the game with 5:27 left in the second after being awarded a penalty shot.
Edmonton made it 6-3 with a power-play goal with 11 minutes remaining when Puljujarvi pounced on a loose puck and scored his first NHL goal in his first game.
Wideman cut back into the lead lead for the Flames on the power play a few minutes later blasting the puck from the point but Edmonton salted the game away with an empty-netter by Eberle.
The two teams will face each other again in Calgary on Friday for Calgary’s home opener.
“The good thing is we have these guys back at home and we’ll get back to the drawing board,” said Elliott.
Notes: The 2016 first round draft selections for both teams made their NHL debuts in the game, as fourth overall pick Puljujarvi dressed for Edmonton and sixth overall selection Matthew Tkachuk played for Calgary Starting on Calgary’s top line was veteran Kris Versteeg, who spent the entire pre-season on a tryout with the Oilers before surprisingly signing on with the Flames.Report Typo/Error