No. 1 pick McDavid’s first goal spoiled by Spezza hat trick
Jason Spezza, 13 years into his NHL career, took the spotlight from the kid.
Spezza scored three goals, including the tiebreaker late in the third period, and the Dallas Stars spoiled Connor McDavid’s first NHL goal with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
Spezza’s go-ahead goal for a 3-2 lead with 4:30 remaining came moments after Kari Lehtonen stopped Nail Yakupov on a breakaway. Lehtonen made his season debut after backing up Antti Niemi in the first two games.
”The breakaway save was a game-saver for us,” Spezza said. ”He stops the breakaway, we go down the other way and score. That’s the hockey game. That’s a huge save. Big time.”
The Stars had 52 shots, their most since getting 55 in a 3-3 tie with Los Angeles on Nov. 8, 1995. Spezza finished off the hat trick with an empty-net goal.
Anders Nilsson made 48 saves in his first appearance for Edmonton, but he couldn’t stop Spezza when the Dallas forward took a dump-off pass from Antoine Roussel in the slot.
”Credit to all the zone time we had,” Spezza said. ”It felt like we had the puck a lot tonight. Sometimes it follows you a little more. The power play we moved around pretty good. We didn’t score a power-play goal, but we got good looks.”
McDavid, the 18-year-old who was selected No. 1 overall in the June draft, scored in the second period to pull the Oilers even at 2 after they had fallen behind 2-0.
McDavid almost scored Edmonton’s first goal when he appeared to tip a shot by defenseman Oscar Klefbom, who got credit for the goal.
But McDavid didn’t have to wait much longer, redirecting a long shot by Andrej Sekera past Lehtonen less than 2 minutes later midway through the second period.
”It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” McDavid said. ”But like you said, obviously, not the way you want to end that game but pretty special to get it right away.”
McDavid struggled in the faceoff circle again, winning just three of nine to put him at 8 of 33 for the season. He had three shots in 16 minutes.
”Connor getting his goal was a nice reward,” coach Todd McLellan said. ”I know that he’s been squeezing the stick tight and I’m sure that he’s felt some pressure to score.”
The quick scoring burst for Edmonton ended a 90-minute home scoreless streak to start the season for the Stars, who got a shutout from Niemi in the season opener. Lehtonen, the starter for five seasons in Dallas, finished with 26 saves after struggling in the preseason.
”Like I’ve said, we’ve asked him to try a few different things,” coach Lindy Ruff said. ”I said I have to be patient. I thought tonight he looked real good. There was nothing he could do about the first two goals.”
Spezza opened the scoring late in the first period by sneaking a shot between Nilsson’s pad and the left post on a shot with almost no angle along the boards not far from the goal line.
Jamie Benn, last season’s Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL’s top scorer, put Dallas up 2-0 by easily beating Nilsson on a wraparound goal early in the second.
”There were a lot of guys that wanted the puck tonight,” Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski said. ”So that’s always fun to see when you look up the ice and four guys are looking at you screaming for it. Everybody was really focused and really wanted it tonight.”
NOTES: Stars F Patrick Eaves left in the first period with a lower-body injury and didn’t return. Ruff said Eaves would ”miss some time.” … The Oilers opened the season with three road games for the second time in franchise history, and lost them all. They went 1-2-0 in 1986-87. … 20-year-old Russian F Valeri Nichushkin, a 2013 first-round pick, was a healthy scratch for the Stars after a slow start to the season.