Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the game on an overtime power play, giving the Edmonton Oilers a sudden 4-3 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night at Rexall Place.
Nugent-Hopkins banged in his 13th of the season on a cross-ice feed from Jordan Eberle 61 seconds into the extra period. Penguins penalty-killer Craig Adams failed to clear the puck moments earlier despite clear possession, giving the Oilers an opportunity they didn’t squander.
Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, also recorded an assist for a three-point night. Edmonton (15-27-5, 35 points) overcame deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 in winning for the second time in three games. The Penguins, who were outshot 31-28, saw a three-game winning streak come to an abrupt end.
Two defensemen exchanged goals to send the game to overtime. Edmonton’s Anton Belov floated a long wrister through traffic to tie the game with 1:59 to play, countering Kris Letang‘s 4-on-3 power-play tally for Pittsburgh about six minutes earlier. Belov’s goal, his first in the NHL, sailed over backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff‘s blocker.
Letang’s crafty goal helped the Penguins (32-12-2, 66 points) regain some semblance of control after the Oilers rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in the opening 10:07 of the third period. Nugent-Hopkins buried a set-up from Eberle from the slot to break Zatkoff’s shutout 53 seconds into the final regulation frame, then Hall rammed in a loose puck at the top of the crease to tie the game at 2.
Following a sloppily-played first period, the Pens appeared on their way to a fourth straight win when they struck twice in the second. James Neal ripped home a short feed from Evgeni Malkin at 2:09, beating Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk over the glove hand. Sidney Crosby deposited his first career goal against Edmonton six minutes later, as his attempted pass for Chris Kunitz on a 3-on-2 rush bounced off an Oilers defender and through Dubnyk.
But with Pittsburgh on a power play late in the second, Malkin took a needless penalty when he tossed Dubnyk’s loose goal stick into the corner. The interference minor carried over into the third, when Nugent-Hopkins capitalized for his first goal of the night.
Crosby recorded an assist on the Letang goal, giving him two points in his first game in Edmonton since 2010. He was cheered by Oilers fans, who roared much louder when the hometown team snatched an unexpected two points in the standings.
The Penguins complete their western Canada road trip with a Saturday game in Calgary against the sagging Flames (15-23-6, 36 points). Faceoff is at 10 p.m. Eastern time from the Scotiabank Saddledome.