EDMONTON — The Connor McDavid era has begun — unofficially.
McDavid recorded a pair of assists in his NHL pre-season debut as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 4-2 on Monday in a pre-season split-squad game.
Andrew Miller, Leon Draisaitl, Anton Lander and Nail Yakupov scored for the Oilers.
McDavid, the first overall draft pick this summer, was named the game’s first star, logging 20:59 in game time.
“There was obviously nerves and a lot of excitement going into the game and it takes a little bit to settle down,” McDavid said. “I thought I was a little nervous in the first period and wasn’t patient with the puck and wasn’t playing my game. I guess that’s to be expected, there was so much hype about playing your first NHL game, although it’s not really, it’s still kind of your first taste.”
Oilers new head coach Todd McLellan was suitably impressed with the play of McDavid, labelled by many as a potential future superstar.
“I thought he looked dangerous and played well on both sides of the puck,” he said. “He had a couple of good scoring chances. It was about what we expected for game one.”
Oliver Kylington and Markus Granlund replied for the Flames.
The game also marked the successful debut of Kylington, a 2015 second-round pick for the Flames.
“I was a bit nervous at the beginning, but I was pretty calm when the game started,” he said. “It was fun to play out there. I’ve dreamed about this kind of environment for a while. It was fun to play in front of a crowd like this and to play against top players. I think I did pretty good. Hopefully it will just get better and better.”
At the same time the game in Edmonton was taking place, another split-squad game between the two Alberta rivals was played in Calgary, with the Oilers winning that game 3-1.
Cam Talbot, who came to the Oilers in an off-season trade with the New York Rangers, got the start in net in Edmonton, while Karri Ramo was in goal for the Flames.
The Oilers broke the deadlock with five-and-a-half minutes to play in the opening frame as Miller snuck a shot under Ramo.
Calgary responded less than a minute later as defenceman Kylington carried the puck up ice and beat Talbot with a knuckler to make it 1-1 after 20 minutes.
The Oilers changed goalies midway through the second, with Laurent Brossoit coming in and allowing a goal on the first shot he faced as Andrej Sekera coughed up the puck on the power play and Granlund blasted a shot to the top corner for the short-handed score.
Mason McDonald came into the Calgary net to start the third.
Edmonton tied the game up with 6:25 left in the third as McDavid chipped a backhand pass in front to Draisaitl who showed good hand scoring from in tight.
The Oilers then took a 3-2 lead with 5:19 remaining as Lander battled to get loose shorthanded and made the most of it, beating McDonald with a high wrist shot.
Edmonton put the game away with an empty-netter as McDavid fed Yakupov for a goal.
Notes: Among the Oilers suiting up for the split squad game in Calgary instead were forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Benoit Pouliot and Ben Scrivens… The Flames kept many of their top players in Calgary, including the likes of Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Jiri Hudler, Michael Frolik, Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press