VANCOUVER — Connor McDavid snapped his goal-less drought Tuesday — and he did it in spectacular fashion.
With just 23.4 seconds left in overtime, the Edmonton Oilers captain tapped in a Darnell Nurse pass from the top of the crease to secure a 3-2 comeback win over the Vancouver Canucks.
It was the superstar centre's 20th goal of the season and his first in six games.
“I've been a bit snake bit," McDavid said. "I feel like I'm getting my chances but I haven't been able to put one away, so it was nice to be able to contribute and find a way to score a goal.”
Edmonton (20-16-2) dominated the shot clock but struggled to get pucks past Vancouver goalie Spencer Martin.
The 26-year-old netminder stopped 47 shots in just his second NHL game of the season and fifth of his career. He was pressed into action after both Canucks all-star Thatcher Demko and backup Jaroslav Halak were added to the NHL's COVID-19 protocol.
Martin may not be a household name, but McDavid said he remembered the native of Oakville, Ont., from playing against him in both the Greater Toronto Hockey League and junior hockey.
"He was kind of one of those guys where you're just waiting for him to make it to the NHL and for goalies it takes a little while longer," McDavid said. "And it seems like he needed a bit of a break and with the COVID bug going around it seemed like that's kind of his break and he's played well. He's played really well."
Mikko Koskinen had 25 saves for the Oilers, who've now won back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 18.
Ryan McLeod finally got Edmonton on the board midway through the third period and Leon Draisaitl added another goal to tie score 2-2.
“Not ideal, but it's nice that we find ways to come back," Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said of the comeback. "That shows a lot of will on our team."
Tyler Motte, with a short-handed tally, and Elias Pettersson scored for Vancouver (18-19-5).
Draisaitl nearly ended the game earlier in overtime, slipping around Brock Boeser near the boards and getting a clean shot off from in tight but Martin was there to make the stop.
The German sniper forced extra time, evening the score 10:24 into the third. He blasted a one-timer past Martin for his 29th goal of the season.
The Oilers came into the game boasting the league's best power play (30.5 per cent) but were 0-for-3 with the man advantage. The Canucks came in with the worst penalty kill in the NHL (67 per cent) and were scoreless on their lone power play.
Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau liked the way his penalty kill looked on Tuesday.
"They’ve worked hard at it, they want to get better at it," he said. "And we told them today that the first half is over, let’s forget about it, let’s start worrying about the second half and see how we can be there.
"And they rose to the occasion and did a good job penalty killing.”
Edmonton got on the board 6:33 into the third when McLeod unleashed a rocket from the bottom of the faceoff circle and his shot found a bit of space between Martin and the post.
“Earlier in the shift, I kind of had a chance to shoot and I tried to make a pass and they've been telling me to shoot the puck more so I was coming down the wing and just thought I'd put one on net and luckily it squeaked through," McLeod said.
The goal, his fifth of the season, prompted cheers of "Let's go Oilers!" from the Edmonton fans littered around Rogers Arena.
A crucial block led to Vancouver's second goal of the night.
With Juho Lahmmikko in the penalty box for holding Draisaitl, the Canucks were tasked with shutting down the Oilers' potent power play.
Miller used his stick to deny McDavid's shot, then picked up the puck and skated into the neutral zone, where he dished it off to Motte. Motte amped up his speed for a short-handed breakaway, then slid a shot under Koskinen's right pad to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead 17:13 into the second.
Motte got a similar breakaway during a Oilers power play midway through the final frame but Koskinen wasn't about to be beaten again. The Finnish netminder threw his legs out to make the stop, sprawling across the net.
"I think I had a little bit more time (on the second breakaway), probably could have taken in to the back hand but sometimes you’re not trying to overthink it. It worked once, you try to do it again," Motte said. "But it could have been the difference and it could have helped us win. But it doesn’t always go in.”
Both sides were down a man earlier in the period when Pettersson opened the scoring.
McDavid had been called for interference on Matthew Highmore and Highmore for embellishment after he dropped to the ice in dramatic fashion.
Draisaitl nearly put Edmonton on the board during the ensuing four-on-four, but Martin stopped the powerful blast with his shoulder.
Moments later, Pettersson ripped a shot from the top of the faceoff circle, clanking it off the far post and in for his 10th goal of the season.
Edmonton seemed poised to open the scoring earlier in the frame when Yamamoto sent a laser careening toward the Vancouver net only to see the puck ping off both the post and crossbar.
The Canucks face the Jets in Winnipeg on Thursday to kick off a four-game road trip. The Oilers host the Nashville Predators the same night.
NOTES: The Oilers activated forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from long-term injured reserve Tuesday. He played his first game since suffering a lower-body injury against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 31. … Edmonton has placed goalie Mike Smith on long-term injured reserve with a thumb injury. … The Canucks currently have five players in COVID-19 protocol (goalies Demko and Halak, and forwards Bo Horvat, Conor Garland and Tanner Pearson). Assistant coaches Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafsson are also on the list. … Vancouver defenceman Tyler Myers played his 800th NHL game.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2022.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version included incorrect information about a goal.