McDavid gets shown up by buddy, Oilers still futile in season opener
Robby Fabbri came through in his first NHL game and helped the St. Louis Blues spoil Edmonton rookie Connor McDavid’s debut.
Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the Blues beat the Oilers 3-1 Thursday night.
"I guess I’ve got some bragging rights," Fabbri said of his childhood friend. "We’ll see how long that lasts."
Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues on a breakaway near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.
"I thought where we turned the game around a little bit was in the the second half of the second period," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We started to really check and create turnovers and really got after them a little bit and started to put a bunch of shots up. … That kind of turned the momentum for us a little bit."
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves in his Oilers debut.
McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on face-offs — winning only three of 13.
"I did some good stuff, did some bad stuff," McDavid said.
Oilers coach Todd McLellan described McDavid’s debut as "fine."
"At times I thought he was very dangerous and at other times I didn’t think that line had a lot going," McLellan said. "So it’s a matter of timing and chemistry and trying to find the right combinations for him and his linemates."
Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward and the Blues’ first-round pick in 2014, was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup — joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson. Fabbri became the youngest player in franchise history to score a goal in his debut, according to information provided by the Blues from the Elias Sports Bureau.
Jori Lehtera delivered a no-look, back-handed pass to Fabbri in the slot and the rookie beat Talbot top shelf with a wrister.
"I came off the bench and I saw the play there," Fabbri said. "I wasn’t sure if he saw or heard me, so for him to make that play, it was an amazing pass."
Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.
"I was just trying to get it out of the zone short-handed," Pietrangelo said. "Usually it hits a guy and it pops up in the air. This one decided to go five-hole."
Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.
"I didn’t need to look. I knew it was going in," Pietrangelo said. "He’s going to score those. Makes it look awfully easy, that’s for sure."
Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut. He scored twice against Detroit on Jan. 19, 2013.
Notes: Anton Slepyshev also made his NHL debut for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327. . The Blues improved to 51-11 in games, both regular season and postseason, in which Tarasenko scores a goal.