Oilers’ Connor McDavid returns from injury in Heritage Classic

ESPN News ServicesOct 29, 2023, 11:36 PM ET2 Minute Read

EDMONTON, Alberta — Captain Connor McDavid returns from injury, leading the Edmonton Oilers to a dominant 5-2 victory over the bitter rivals Calgary Flames in the NHL’s Heritage Classic outdoor game.

McDavid, a three-time Hart Trophy recipient, made an earlier-than-expected return to the ice after an upper-body injury. His presence boosted the struggling Oilers, who had suffered four consecutive defeats prior to Sunday’s offensive explosion.

“It’s an incredibly special experience, one you might only get the chance to experience once or twice in a lifetime,” McDavid said gleefully, referring to the unique outdoor atmosphere. “You just have to savor every moment. And of course, this win means a lot to our team.”

Contributing to the Oilers’ triumph, Evander Kane notched a goal and two assists, while Brett Kulak, Zach Hyman, Evan Bouchard, and Vincent Desharnais also found the back of the net. In goal for the home team, Stuart Skinner exhibited a stellar performance with 24 saves.

A.J. Greer and Nazem Kadri scored for the Flames, who suffered their fifth consecutive loss. Jacob Markstrom made 29 saves in net for Calgary.

The temperature at puck drop for the Heritage Classic was much warmer than the original event in 2003, reaching approximately 37 degrees compared to the bone-chilling minus-22 with wind chill back then.

The Oilers wasted no time in scoring, capitalizing on a tremendous rebound from Markstrom, allowing Kane to strike and Kulak to swiftly convert with a backhanded shot just 4:19 into the game.

Carrying the momentum forward, Edmonton extended their lead to 2-0 midway through the first period. Leon Draisaitl emerged from the penalty box and connected with Hyman on a 2-on-1 opportunity, resulting in Hyman’s third goal of the season at 9:38.

However, Calgary managed to narrow the gap with just 5:05 remaining in the period and only 1 second left on their two-man advantage. Kadri’s powerful shot deflected off Skinner’s blocker and found the net, marking Kadri’s first goal of the season.

“They really pressed us hard in the second period,” Hyman commented on Calgary’s resurgence. “Weathering their storm and delivering our counterattack was crucial.”

It didn’t take long for Edmonton to restore their two-goal lead, as Bouchard’s long-range slap shot sailed through traffic and found the back of the net just over a minute later. McDavid recorded an assist on the goal, extending his impressive home scoring streak to 24 games.

Calgary managed to capitalize on a power play with 8½ minutes left in the second period, as Greer pounced on the rebound from MacKenzie Weegar’s close-range shot, making the score 3-2.

Edmonton sealed their victory at 6:16 of the third period when Desharnais’ point shot took a high bounce off the ice, surprising Markstrom and finding its way into the net.

The Oilers solidified their triumph with an empty-net goal from Kane in the final minute, securing his second goal of the season.

“We needed this win. It was a significant game for us, whether indoors or outdoors,” McDavid acknowledged.

Calgary defenseman Rasmus Andersson was absent from the game as he served his four-game suspension.

McDavid now boasts a total of nine points this season. He and the Oilers will face off against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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