Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 10/10/11

Edmonton Oilers correspondent Kathryn Uggerholt recaps the Oilers opening night win and Nugent-Hopkins’ first career goal.

By Kathryn Uggerholt

The Edmonton Oilers are currently undefeated with a 2-1 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in their season opener. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ first career goal was the game-tying marker before it went to a shootout. Jordan Eberle and Alex Hemsky hit the back of the net on their shootout chances, while Devan Dubnyk stood tall between the pipes stopping two of the three shooters he faced. Coach Tom Renney is now 8-0 in home openers.

Less than three minutes into the game the Oilers already found themselves down a man when Ryan Smyth was a little too happy to be on the home team at Rexall Place once again. He jumped on the ice too soon and the refs whistled the Oilers for too many men on the ice when he tried to jump back at 2:33 of the opening frame. A shot from Kris Letang trickled past the goal line through Dubnyk’s five-hole at just 3:13 to give the Penguins a one goal lead.

Despite hard play, no one on the Oilers could take advantage of four power play opportunities they had in the first period – even with a 5-on-3 chance.

The middle stanza was scoreless but that’s when things turned around for the Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins got his name on the boxsheet. Nugent-Hopkins took a tripping penalty for his first career penalty minutes. Playing in his first NHL game, the first overall pick struggled with faceoffs where he would eventually only go 2-for-16 but he made up for it.

Late in the third period Taylor Hall made a beautiful pass out to the front of the net. Jeff Petry could not get it past Brent Johnson but Nugent-Hopkins backhanded it into the net to tie the game at 15:05.

“It was a relief. I just wanted to do everything I could to try and create something,” he said to the Edmonton Journal, “It worked out.

A mere 30 seconds after the game was tied up Smyth got a five-minute major penalty for an elbow on Chris Kunitz. It gave the Penguins a power play for the remainder of the game but the Oilers managed to kill that off and it carried over into overtime.

Both teams had a lot of opportunity but perhaps the best for the Oilers came from Hall. He served Smyth’s penalty and when time was up he jumped up on the play but still could not score.

After making 33 saves on 34 shots in regulation, Dubnyk only faced a single shot in overtime. It came 16 seconds into the extra play and rang the crossbar.

Eberle and Hemsky scored in the shootout while Linus Omark’s fancy shot just missed the net. James Neal scored for the Penguins but Dubnyk stopped the other two shooters to get the home opening win.

Just a sidenote, the last time a first overall pick scored in his first NHL game was October 3rd 2009 when John Tavares notched a goal and an assist. That debut was also against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but against Marc-Andre Fleury.

 


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