McDavid scores in return, Oilers beat Jackets 5-1
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Connor McDavid’s highlight-reel goal Tuesday night was eerily similar to the play that cracked his clavicle nearly three months ago.
In his return from that injury, McDavid scored and had two assists to help the Edmonton Oilers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-1 and end a three-game skid.
McDavid scored in the second period. He took the puck at center ice, accelerated to jet speed in a few strides and then dipped and dangled through two defenders before deking out goaltender Joonas Korpisalo for a 2-1 lead.
McDavid quadruple-pumped his fist while the Rexall Place crowd jumped to their feet with a roar.
“I think the last time I went 1-on-2, it didn’t end very well for me, so little bit better of a result this time,” McDavid said.
McDavid, the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft, was injured on Nov. 3 when he charged toward the net against the Philadelphia Flyers, splitting two defenders.
Only that timem all three went down in heap and skidded into the end boards. McDavid came up holding his shoulder with what turned out to be a broken collarbone that sidelined him for 37 games.
As the minutes ticked down, the crowd chanted: “Connor! Connor! Connor!”
″(Connor) set the tone for our team and our team followed,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “He had a hell of a night and we certainly missed him.
“Our group also responded to him. He was the catalyst.”
It was just the 14th game of McDavid’s NHL career but a highly anticipated return. His combination of speed and skill have scouts calling him a generational player on par with Sidney Crosby.
He said there was no problem with the collarbone.
“It felt good,” McDavid said. “It’s been feeling good for a while now. Obviously I didn’t know how it would hold up in game action, but I was happy with how it felt.”
Eric Gryba, Benoit Pouliot, Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers, and Cam Talbot made 36 saves.
Matt Calvert scored for the Blue Jackets, and Columbus ended a two-game winning streak.
“We need to be ready to start the game on time because we were a little behind for the first 20,” Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky said.
“We were a little rusty but both teams were coming off the same All-Star break and they had even more time off than we did. We can’t use that as an excuse. We need to be ready to play from the drop of the puck.”
Edmonton outshot Columbus 13-1 early, but the Blue Jackets got on the board first when Scott Hartnell fed it to Calvert on a 2-on-1 break and he bounced a shot off Talbot and in.
Edmonton tied it up 3 minutes into the second period. Gryba directed a hopeful shot on net that eluded Korpisalo for his first goal of the season.
After McDavid’s thrilling goal, the Oilers went up 3-1 on the power play with 3:28 remaining in the second when Pouliot tipped in Andrej Sekera’s shot. They scored again 29 seconds later when Taylor Hall stole a puck behind the net and fed it in front to Draisaitl.
McDavid picked up his second assist on the power play with 5 minutes left, fishing out a puck to set up Eberle at the side of the net.
NOTES: The Oilers were still without the services of Oscar Klefbom (leg), Andrew Ference (hip), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (hand), Brandon Davidson (undisclosed) and Justin Schultz (illness). Shultz’s absence made room on the blue line for Adam Clendening to play his first game with Edmonton after being claimed off waivers last Wednesday from Anaheim. ... Out with injuries for the Blue Jackets were Sergei Bobrovsky (lower body) and Curtis McElhinney (ankle), in addition to skaters David Savard (oblique) and David Clarkson (upper body). ... Both teams return to action on Thursday night. The Jackets are in Vancouver and the Oilers begin a four-game trip in Ottawa.