Penguins outlast Oilers in shootout
EDMONTON, Alberta — So many times, a matchup is overly hyped and, once the puck drops, the game doesn’t live up to all that was expected.
That wasn’t the case at Rogers Place Friday night.
In what was billed as a showdown between the two best players in the game — Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby — fans were treated to an end-to-end, breathtaking game that needed a shootout to settle things.
Phil Kessel and Crosby scored goals in the shootout and the Penguins got a 3-2 win.
McDavid also scored in the shootout, which left it up to Kessel to settle things.
“I think guys like Connor are coming into the league and having a lot of success early, they’re getting a great opportunity to play and deservedly so,” Crosby said of McDavid. “You see a lot of young guys that are having a great impact in the league. I don’t think they can be put in those situations if they can’t handle them and I think they’ve shown they can handle them.
McDavid, the NHL’s scoring leader with 75 points, said that facing Crosby — a two-time Stanley Cup winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist — made this game very special indeed.
“It is different,” McDavid said. “To say it’s a normal game would be lying. Obviously, he’s someone I’ve looked up to my whole life. To play against him is fun. It was probably to my advantage, it’s easier for me to get up to play against him than it is for him to get up to play against me.”
“It was fun to watch, they are obviously two great players with a lot of skill and a lot of speed on both sides,” said Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who did a lot more than watch, to be fair. He made 40 saves to send the game to a shootout.
“To me, Sid is the best, he’s been the best for a long time and I think he does so many good things offensively and defensively and I think he’s a real complete player out there.”
It wasn’t McDavid or Crosby who got things started, though. Nick Bonino, who had a hat trick in Wednesday’s victory over Winnipeg, opened the scoring at 5:42 of the first period. Bonino banged home a pass from Scott Wilson with Oilers goalie Cam Talbot sprawled on the ice following the initial shot from Justin Schultz.
It was Schultz’s first game in Edmonton since being traded to the Penguins late last season.
With 2:35 left in the first period, Evgeni Malkin received credit for a weird goal after his slap shot trickled past Talbot. The puck sat in the crease. Malkin waved at the loose puck and missed. Then McDavid made a wild attempt to clear the puck, and it banked off Talbot and went into the net. Malkin now has nine points in his last four games.
“I was just trying to get my stick in there and I kinda caught the edge of the net and, on a play like that, you’re kinda just panicking,” McDavid said. “You just throw a body part in front of it, I thought I’d get my leg there, it was just unfortunate that Talbot was coming back at the same time and I banked it in off of him. So, kind of a funny play; we’ll be seeing that for a while on the bloopers for sure.”
“It’s no one’s fault,” Talbot said. “(McDavid) gets his stick caught, and he’s trying to do the right thing kicking it further away from the goal line. It just so happened I turned around ready to grab it. It cost us a point tonight.”
David Desharnais scored his first goal as an Oiler at 4:55 of the second period, as he jammed the puck in during a goalmouth scramble. It was the highlight of a wild period which saw Edmonton launch 15 shots at Fleury, who made a glove save on Patrick Maroon and later sprawled to stop a McDavid chance.
“They came at us and we got on our heels and it was hard for us to get our momentum back,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “Obviously, you have to give them credit, they have a good team and they came at us pretty hard.”
Less than a minute into the third, Leon Draisaitl rang a shot off the crossbar.
The Oilers continued to raise the pressure on the visiting Penguins. And, finally, on the power play, the Oilers got the tying goal. McDavid deposited a rebound of a Draisaitl shot past Fleury at 12:45. It was the Oilers 32nd shot of the game.
With four minutes left, the teams traded chances; Oiler Adam Larsson hit the post, then Kessel went off on a breakaway, with Talbot scissoring his pads to make the stop.
In overtime, Talbot stood his ground to stop Crosby. Then Fleury robbed McDavid on a breakaway, then made an outstanding pad save on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
The Oilers outshot the Penguins 42-31.
NOTES: Penguins RW Patric Hornqvist missed the game with a concussion, while D Kris Letang is back in Pittsburgh dealing with an upper-body injury. ... Oilers G Cam Talbot made his 60th start of the season. ... D Justin Schultz had a plus/minus rating of minus-78 in 248 career games for the Oilers. He is plus-36 in 89 career games for the Penguins. ... Schultz was traded for a third-round pick, which the Oilers used to draft Filip Berglund, who has nine assists in 47 Swedish League games this season. ... The Penguins scratched D Cameron Gaunce and C Matt Cullen, while LW Tom Sestito began a four-game suspension for his hit on Winnipeg’s Toby Enstrom. ... The Oilers scratched D Eric Gryba, LW Jujhar Khaira, LW Anton Slepyshev and C Drake Caggiula.