Whether intentional or not, coaches gave the hockey world a head-to-head matchup between Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. The all-time great Crosby and great-in-waiting McDavid didn’t disappoint as both notched assists and offensive chances shortly after the opening puck drop. The Pittsburgh Penguins (10-8-5) kept the puck from the Edmonton Oilers (16-5-0) in the second period, but Edmonton filled the net in the first and third periods to beat the Penguins 5-2.
Late in the second period, the Penguins were outshooting Edmonton 24-8 but scored only once and never had a lead.
McDavid had a hand in three Edmonton goals by launching himself on a few odd-man breaks. McDavid fittingly scored the empty netter to clinch the win.
Yeah, McDavid is really, really good. He had four points, and Crosby was a minus-4.
The Penguins are winless in three games and have allowed 11 goals, not counting the shootout winner against Calgary on Monday. It was the first time since Nov. 14 that Tristan Jarry allowed more than two goals.
The first period wasn’t a Hallmark moment for Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.
Edmonton winger Zach Hyman (10) swept past Letang in the slot and whistled a top-shelf wrister past Penguins goalie Jarry six minutes into the game. McDavid had the primary assist.
Later in the first period, and just 81 seconds after the Penguins tied the game, Letang was again the goat. The defenseman pinched low in the offensive zone. Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen made the initial save, but Letang poked the rebound into the slot. Before Sidney Crosby could cover the top of the zone, Connor McDavid intercepted Letang’s pass and quickly transitioned for a two-on-one.
Hyman (11) finished the odd-man break as the Penguins gave chase. Whoops.
Later in the first period, the Penguins top-line did put a marker on the board. Crosby pulled the faceoff back to John Marino, who set up Jake Guentzel (10) for a one-timer in a set face-off play. Crosby gained an assist, and Guentzel extended his scoring streak to 11 games.
In the second period, the Penguins and Letang reversed course.
Evan Rodrigues continued to impress everyone. After a couple of nifty toe-drag moves for scoring chances, he worked a give-and-go with Teddy Blueger early in the second period. Rather than take the shot from the slot, Rodrigues gave it back to Blueger (6), who pounded the top-corner shot to tie the game, 2-2.
The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated most of the second period. At the halfway point of the game, the Penguins led in shots, 20-7. The advantage reached 26-13 by the end of the period, but a couple of sloppy sequences later in the period forced Jarry to make a couple of Grade A saves.
Edmonton cracked the Penguins early in the third period.
Kailer Yamamoto (5) neatly deflected Tyson Barrie’s point shot out of the air two minutes into the final period. That became the game-winner, and Edmonton reclaimed a lead, 3-2.
Midway through the third period, McDavid again ripped off a puck in the defensive zone and created a two-on-one. For a player critiqued as not playing enough defense, McDavid created offense with work on the ugly side of the blue line.
McDavid softly set up Evan Bouchard for an easy tap-in for Edmonton’s fourth goal and his third assist.
Overall, Jarry was good but stopped 17 of 21 shots. Koskinen stopped 32 of 34.
Oilers forward Zach Hyman thought he had a hat trick after he scored midway through the third period, but the Penguins successfully challenged for offside. Hundreds of hats were already on the ice.
The Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.