EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers were clinging on to a one-goal lead in the second period and hanging on tight against the Philadelphia Flyers, but then their dynamic duo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl took the game over and made a big statement.
McDavid recorded his third-career five-point game (one goal, four assists), and Draisaitl scored twice and added two assists in a 6-3 victory Wednesday night at Rogers Place.
Goaltender Mikko Koskinen was spectacular making 49 saves for his third win of the season Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ethan Bear and former Flyer Brandon Manning rounded out the scoring for Edmonton, who improves to 6-1 this season.
Jakub Voracek scored twice and added an assist, while Oskar Lindblom also replied for the Flyers in the loss, as they dropped to 2-2-1.
“I thought he (Koskinen) was good all night long, especially in the second, he really held us in it,” said McDavid.
“I like how we bent, but we didn’t break in the second. We held strong and we found a way to get a couple to get ourselves the lead.”
Flyers netminder Carter Hart was making his first-career start in his hometown, and it was a tough night for the Sherwood Park, Alta product, who allowed four goals on 14 shots, and was pulled with 5:38 left in the second period, putting a sour note on his homecoming.
“Sure, there’s guys with a lot of skill like McDavid and Draisaitl, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to stop the puck,” said Hart.
“I didn’t do my job and it cost us. You’ve got to come up with a couple of saves to keep your team in the game and I didn’t do that.”
The Flyers pressed hard for the equalizer in the second period, but Koskinen came up with a plethora of big saves to keep it a one-goal game.
“He was the first second and third star, he was the only reason we won,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett.
“It wasn’t a 6-3 game or a 6-1 game. The score was that, but it wasn’t that kind of game.”
Koskinen’s strong play sparked the Oilers in the late stages of the second period. After being dominated for the majority of the second frame, Edmonton erupted with three goals in a 3:52 span to break the game wide open, and it was the National Hockey League’s two top scorers leading the way.
McDavid outmuscled Flyers defenceman Justin Braun off the puck and gave the Oilers a 3-1 lead 12:34 into the second to give Edmonton some much needed cushion.
“That’s when the game turned for us a little bit, when he scored the one where he beat their defenceman (Braun),” said Tippett.
It didn’t stop there.
Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl scored power play markers just 1:54 apart late in the period to give Edmonton a commanding lead.
“That third goal was the difference maker,” said Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault.
“We spent close to 45 seconds completely in their end against their top line, and they flip the puck out and they were able to put it in the back of the net.”
The Flyers pumped a franchise record 25 shots in the third period and would score two late goals from Lindblom and Voracek to make it interesting, but it wasn’t enough as Koskinen stood tall between the pipes.
“After the first two shifts of the game we were out-played by a wide margin until we got it turned around. Connor got that goal and we got a couple of power-play goals and we pushed on,” said Tippett.
NOTES: Edmonton’s power play is red hot to start the season. They were 2-for-2 against the Flyers and are now 10-for-22 in seven games this season.
The Oilers paid tribute to former coach Ted Green, who passed away, Oct. 8, at the age of 79. Green joined the Oilers as an assistant coach in 1982, and spent three seasons the Oilers head coach from 1991-94, compiling a record of 65-102-21.
McDavid’s first two five-point games came against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 2, 2016, and against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 5, 2018.
Oscar Klefbom’s assist on McDavid’s second period goal was his 100th of his NHL career.