It could be argued a different Edmonton Oilers team showed up Thursday to take on the Vancouver Canucks, with the squad looking to avenge a 5-3 loss at the home opener the previous night.
And that argument might hold some water given the result, as the Oilers took the Canucks apart through two periods and clamped down for the third for a decisive 5-2 win to split the difference.
Connor McDavid scored a hat trick to solidify the W, concluding a four-point night. Leon Draisaitl had four assists, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two goals and a helper to go with 23:28 of ice time.
Nate Schmidt and Tyler Motte scored for Vancouver.
The Oilers seemed to solve any power play issues, scoring twice on the man-advantage after going zero-for-four on Wednesday. Last season, Edmonton boasted the top power play in the NHL at 29.5 percent.
But it was defence that shut the game down in the third.
“Defence is very important to us, we’ve preached that throughout camp,” said Draisaitl. “Yesterday wasn’t the way we wanted to show up and play. Great response tonight.”
Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko was the busier goalie Thursday, turning aside 41 of 46 Edmonton shots, while Mikko Koskinen picked up his first win of the season with a .950 save percentage. He allowed two goals on 40 shots, so it wasn’t a quiet affair by any means.
McDavid popped off nine shots, while the Nuge managed eight and Jesse Puljujarvi chimed in for seven shots on the target in just over 11 minutes of total ice time.
“This is his first two North American games he’s played in a long time,” said head coach Dave Tippett of the new number 13. “He’s still finding his way out there but he’s relentless. He works. He’s heavy on the puck. He wants the puck all the time. I think he’s going to keep trending in the right direction.”
The hope is that the Oilers are also trending in the right direction. While you wouldn’t exactly say Edmonton played adept shutdown hockey in a game with so many shots on goal, it’s safe to say this squad is learning the right lessons at exactly the right time.
Pic: Jason Franson/The Canadian Press