EDMONTON — It sure was a happy birthday for Kailer Yamamoto.
Yamamoto put another exclamation mark on his bid to land a job on right wing with the Oilers, scoring his fifth and six goals in the six pre-season games he’s played.
"Especially on my birthday. It makes it that much better," said Yamamoto before the Oilers took off for Germany, where they will wrap up their pre-season with an exhibition game against the Cologne Sharks on Wednesday.
"It’s been a good ride. I give a lot of credit to all the linemates I’ve played with. They’ve done a phenomenal job with me and it’s been a lot of fun."
Connor McDavid and Jujhar Khaira also scored for the Oilers, while Cam Talbot took care of the rest with 39 saves as Edmonton improved to 6-1 in pre-season. Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett and Elias Lindholm scored for Calgary (4-3-3).
"If you want to get those goals, you have to go to that area," said Yamamoto, who banged a goalmouth feet from Drake Caggiula past Mike Smith for the winner.
"It’s been a lot of fun and I’m just trying to get better every game, day by day."
Coach Todd McLellan has seen the diminutive Yamamoto go into traffic and score that kind of goal more than once this pre-season.
"That’s where he goes. That’s what he does," said McLellan. "He’s got great vision and great skills. He’s got a nose for the net. He’s hungry around those areas."
Khaira, pencilled in for third-line duty with Ryan Strome and Jesse Puljujarvi this season, made the most of some power-play time when he put the Oilers up 1-0 in the first period. Khaira beat Smith high to the stick side 3:37 in for his first goal of the pre-season.
It was all Calgary for the rest of the period as Gaudreau, Bennett and Lindholm beat Talbot for a 3-1 lead. Gaudreau tapped home a rebound on a power play to tie it 1-1, Bennett had a shot deflect off Matt Benning and in, and Lindholm took a stretch pass from Mark Giordano and made it 3-1 at 18:02. The Oilers were outshot 19-5 in the first.
McDavid got the Oilers started in the second period, scoring his fourth goal of the pre-season in tight on a nifty feed from Leon Draisaitl to cut the deficit to 3-2. Then came Yamamoto, who made it 3-3 and then decided it 3:37 into the third, charging to the crease and tapping Caggiula’s feed behind Smith.
"Last year when we dug ourselves into a hole, I don’t want to say guys ever quit, but we dug ourselves into deeper holes," Caggiula said. "Next thing, a 3-1 game is a 5-1 game. Today, we were able to battle back and it shows the resilience of our group.
Ty Rattie, who has grabbed a job on right wing on the first line with McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, is nursing a minor injury and didn’t play. Defenceman Kris Russell, who is also banged up, did not play.
Both Rattie and Russell will make the trip to Germany and are expected to be ready to start the season. The Oilers open the season next Saturday in Sweden against the New Jersey Devils.
However, Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson left the game in the second period and did not return. McLellan said Larsson’s back tightened up on him and he was taken out as a precaution.