Edmonton forward Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring for head coach Dave Tippett’s debut, netting the first goal just over five and a half minutes into the first period. Zack Kassian and Matt Benning had the assists.
“What you like about him is he’s a dominant player out there,” Tippett said of Draisaitl. “You’re in a tight game. He’s got lots of juice, so we kept (putting) him out there.”
The Canucks punched back in the middle frame, with Alexander Edler scoring his first. Brock Boeser and newcomer J.T. Miller had assists.
Tanner Pearson scored in the third period and Vancouver had the lead with about 10 minutes to go in the game. That put the Oilers back on their heels a bit.
But Kassian led the comeback just over a minute later, with Draisaitl returning the favour from the first goal.
Captain Connor McDavid put the affair on ice under four minutes later, landing the winner from Draisaitl and Benning.
The Canucks outshot the Oilers by a fair margin and won just a few more faceoffs, but Edmonton had the slight edge in hits. Nobody scored on the power play, even when both teams traded too many men calls in the middle stanza.
For Vancouver, it was an interesting look at McDavid and Co. Quinn Hughes had played against him before, two years ago at the world championships, but the opener was a different sort of business.
And honestly, it was McDavid and Draisaitl that told the story for Edmonton Wednesday. Mostly Draisaitl. The 23-year-old seemed to dominate every time he touched the puck, showcasing his physical prowess by setting up two and scoring one.
But that’s not to say the Oilers, as a team, dominated. Far from it. Vancouver hemmed Edmonton in their own zone for extended stretches and pushed the action along the boards. That opened things up for their defenders to take shots on Oilers goalie Mike Smith. And Edmonton didn’t make life easy on the 37-year-old, sometimes letting their opponents fire at will.
So, how did the Oilers do? Not bad. They got the W. And they proved their stars are their stars. They had better players. But were they the better team? That was not so clear.
The 1-0-0 Oilers will host the Los Angeles Kings Saturday, while the Canucks will suit up against the Calgary Flames on the same night.
Photo credit: The Canadian Press/Jason Franson