The first pick in this past summer’s NHL draft scored the tying goal for Edmonton with less than five minutes left in regulation, and the Oilers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in a shootout on Sunday night.
“Going into the game I was really nervous, but I tried to use that to my advantage,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who played his first NHL regular-season game. “It felt pretty good. … it was really exciting. But, I’m more excited about the win.”
Pittsburgh got points in all three stops of a Western Canadian road trip to start the season. The Penguins beat Vancouver and Calgary before coming up just short in Edmonton.
“We got five out of six points,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “I like that. We got some wins in tough places. We’ve played a lot of hockey already and I think that showed in this game. A lot of guys got taxed. But we’re happy with our start.”
“It was hormone hockey,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “I guess you have to expect that. Our team hadn’t played in a while and we had some guys playing their first ever NHL regular-season game. They were almost over-excited. We turned the puck over a number of times in the first two periods. But we started to play a little better and started to share the puck better.”
Both teams hit posts in overtime, but couldn’t score.
Notes: With Malkin out, former Oilers enforcer Steve MacIntyre(notes) came in as his replacement. … Renney is a perfect 8-0 in home openers over his career. … The Penguins had won their last four wins over the Oilers. … Penguins star Sidney Crosby(notes) practiced with the team on Sunday but has still not been cleared to play. … The largest crowd response during player introductions went to F Ryan Smyth, returning to the team four years after an unpopular trade sent him to the Islanders.
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