Nugent-Hopkins’ OT goal leads Oilers past Pens 4-3
EDMONTON, Alberta – The Edmonton Oilers didn’t follow the script, at least the way the standings suggested they should have.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored two goals, including the winner in overtime, and added an assist as the Edmonton Oilers came from behind to stun the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-3, Friday night.
The Oilers, last in the Western Conference, tied it late in regulation and had a power play to start the overtime session. Jordan Eberle made a perfect pass to Nugent-Hopkins, who snapped the puck into a wide-open net 1:01 into extra time.
Taylor Hall and Anton Belov also scored for the Oilers, who won for just the fourth time in 15 games.
“That shows a lot of character for us, and just to show we can play this way, it was a big game for us,” said Nugent-Hopkins, whose team trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes. “There was no real deflation in the second intermission. When we get into trouble, we kind of deflate and don’t bring that same effort and I thought we did a good job of not getting down on ourselves and we pushed back and we did a great job of sticking with it.”
James Neal, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang scored for the Penguins, who had their three-game win streak halted. It was just Pittsburgh’s third loss in 15 games.
“We just didn’t match their desperation,” Crosby said. “Being up by two goals, obviously we need to find a way to close that game out. We knew they were going to come out hard for the third and we still let them get even, then we took the lead and lost it again.
“You don’t deserve to win games when you do that.”
Trailing 2-0, Edmonton got on the scoreboard 53 seconds into the third period on an abbreviated power play as Eberle spotted Nugent-Hopkins creeping in from the point and the 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick made a perfect shot to beat Jeff Zatkoff.
The Oilers tied it with just under 10 minutes remaining as they got an odd-man rush on a Pittsburgh line change. A shot from Nugent-Hopkins deflected to Hall in the crease, where he was able to hook it in for his 17th of the season.
Pittsburgh jumped back in front on a 4-on-3 advantage with just under eight minutes left as Crosby won a faceoff and Letang caught Devan Dubnyk going the other way on a shot from the top of the circle to make it 3-2.
Edmonton kept up the pressure, however, and was able to tie it with just 1:59 remaining as Belov scored his first career NHL goal with a point shot that went over Zatkoff’s shoulder.
“With our history this year, some nights we haven’t wanted to stick with the game plan and just breathe,” Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. “Tonight we did that, we took a breath and understood what we needed to do and we stuck with it. It’s good when you get rewarded that way, because it backs up what we’re trying to promote. Beating a team like Pittsburgh, puts a little jump into our step.”
Hall said it was a good feeling in a season that hasn’t contained all that many of them.
“It was a fun effort all around,” he said. “There was a good atmosphere in the arena tonight and we found a way to win. We were down quite a few times in the game, but we came back, stuck to our guns, stuck to our game plan and it was good to see.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said three penalties his team took, including Brandon Sutter’s slashing call that gave the Oilers the man advantage heading into overtime, were major contributors to the loss.
“We took a penalty on the power play two times and we took a penalty behind their net in the offensive zone at the end of the third that turns into the game-winning goal,” he said.
“We had three penalties that were undisciplined.”