Connor McDavid looks more than ready to pick up where he left off last season.
McDavid had a hat trick as the Oilers defeated the rival Calgary Flames 3-0 on Wednesday night in Edmonton’s home opener.
“It’s a pretty big advantage to have the best player in the world on our team,” said Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom. “I know exactly how the defencemen in Calgary feel right now. I play against Connor in every single practice, so I know how it feels.
“He can just make you look silly, he’s so fast. His control with the puck, it’s really fun to see from our side of the ice.”
McDavid led the NHL with 100 points last season and earned the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
The Oilers captain used his speed to blow past defenders on several occasions throughout the game.
“It’s a good way to start,” said McDavid. “Everybody was making a big deal about Calgary’s defence, but it was our defence that was great tonight. They were moving pucks up to the forwards so we could do what we get paid to do.”
McDavid opened the scoring 11 minutes into the first period as Leon Draisaitl fed him so he could beat a helpless Mike Smith in the Flames’ net.
Edmonton went up 2-0 eight minutes into the third period as McDavid turned on the jets to blow past a pair of Calgary defenders and beat Smith up high on a breakaway. It was his third breakaway of the game and 150th career point.
McDavid put his third goal of the game into an empty net as Draisaitl set him up again after a crushing hit by Milan Lucic pried the puck loose.
Cam Talbot made 26 saves for the shutout in net for the Oilers (1-0-0).
The Edmonton goaltender had to be sharp on several occasions to keep the second period scoreless, although Edmonton led 29-21 on the shot clock after 40 minutes.
“I would start the season with a win any day of the week, the shutout is just an added bonus,” he said. “To play the way we did tonight defensively and to start out with a shutout is pretty special.”
Smith made 42 saves in his debut for the Flames (0-1-0), who are now 0-7-1 in their last eight season openers.
“They beat us in almost every department,” said Calgary head coach Glen Gulutzan. “They won the battles on the wall. They were clean on their breakouts. They made plays. They threw pucks to the net. I thought their team was all-around better than us tonight. We have got to be better.”
Both teams return to action on Saturday, with the Flames at home to Winnipeg and the Oilers in Vancouver.