EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Connor McDavid looks ready to pick up where he left off last season.
The reigning MVP scored a hat trick on opening night, Cam Talbot made 26 saves and the Edmonton Oilers beat the Calgary Flames 3-0 Wednesday.
“It’s a pretty big advantage to have the best player in the world on our team,” Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom said. “I know exactly how the defensemen 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 won 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,” McDavid said. “Everybody was making a big deal about Calgary’s defense, but it was our defense that was great tonight. They were moving pucks up to the forwards so we could do what we get paid to do.”
Mike Smith stopped 42 shots in his debut for the Flames, who fell to 0-7-1 in their last eight season openers.
“They beat us in almost every department,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. “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.”
McDavid began the scoring 11 minutes into the first period when he beat a helpless Smith after taking a pass from Leon Draisaitl.
Talbot had to be sharp on several occasions to keep the second period scoreless, although the Oilers led 29-21 in shots after 40 minutes.
“I would start the season with a win any day of the week — the shutout is just an added bonus,” Talbot said. “To play the way we did tonight defensively and to start out with a shutout is pretty special.”
Edmonton went up 2-0 eight minutes into the third 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 into an empty net as Draisaitl set him up again after a crushing hit by Milan Lucic pried the puck loose.
NOTES: It was the Oilers’ 38th season opener and the 29th time they’ve started at home. They are 18-8-3 in those games. … Edmonton won all four games against Calgary last season. The teams will face off five times this season. … Recently signed forward Jaromir Jagr did not make the trip with the Flames. … During pregame ceremonies, the Oilers paid tribute to police officer Const. Mike Chernyk, who was struck by a car and stabbed in Edmonton on Saturday, yet the joined the team on ice for the national anthem.
Flames: Host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.
Oilers: At the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.
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