EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Connor McDavid bailed out the Edmonton Oilers with another big game.
McDavid had two goals — including the tying score with 8 seconds left in regulation — and also scored in the shootout, helping the Oilers battle back for a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored in the shootout, and Darnell Nurse had the other goal in regulation for the Oilers, who have won three of their last five on the heels of a six-game losing streak.
“We found a way to win a game where maybe we didn’t deserve it,” McDavid said. “But we stuck with it. It was gritty. There was just a terrible bounce for them to go ahead in the third. To lose on that would have been disappointing.”
Edmonton had lost five in a row at home.
“We were exhausted,” Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I thought our players really gutted it up in the third period. Everybody knew, halfway through the first period, we had nothing. They just helped each other through. It’s a hell of a sign for having absolutely zero in the tank. To come up with two points is, for me, really, really impressive.”
Frank Vatrano, Denis Malgin and Henrik Borgstrom scored for the Panthers, who have lost four games in a row.
“It was unfortunate the way it ended, 8 seconds to go to get two points, I thought we played a heck of a road game,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “I think we gave up 18 shots in regulation. We produced some chances, we scored a big goal at the end, we did a lot of good things. I feel bad for the guys because I thought they worked hard, I thought they responded.”
Florida started the scoring just before the midway mark of the first period when Vatrano scored his 12th on a shot that Edmonton’s Cam Talbot got a piece of before it trickled in past him.
Edmonton got the goal back just 26 seconds later when Alex Chiasson dropped the puck back to a trailing Nurse, who blasted a shot past James Reimer. McDavid picked up his 40th assist of the season on the play.
The Panthers regained the lead 4½ minutes into the second period when Malgin scored on a rebound.
After failing to get a shot on a two-man advantage, the Oilers tied it with 22 seconds left in the middle frame when McDavid had an empty cage to shoot it into at the side of the net, scoring his 25th of the season.
Florida got a lucky bounce to go up 3-2 with six minutes to play when Borgstrom put a puck on net that bounced off of a pair of Oilers defenders — Caleb Jones and then Adam Larsson — before caroming into the Edmonton net.
“I have never seen a bounce like that,” Talbot said. “You get ones that go off of skates and at least they are being funneled toward the net. That one was being pushed away from the net and somehow ended up back in it.”
The Oilers tied it with Talbot pulled and just 8 seconds left as McDavid tucked it through Reimer’s legs to send the game to extra time. McDavid also added an insurance goal in the shootout.
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