EDMONTON — Connor McDavid stretched his lead atop the NHL scoring race, but Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins got the even more important two points on Friday.
Phil Kessel scored the shootout winner as the Penguins came away with a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
McDavid had a goal in regulation time to take him to 75 points on the season while Crosby was held off the scoresheet, and is now five points back of the young Oilers phenom. Both players notched goals in the shootout session, however.
McDavid said he still gets a charge out of playing one of his childhood idols in Crosby.
“To say it’s a normal game would be lying,” he said. “Obviously, he’s someone I’ve looked up to my whole life. To play against him is fun. It was probably to my advantage, it’s easier for me to get up to play against him than it is for him to get up to play against me.”
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said it was a pleasure to watch all the high-end talent on display.
“It was a pretty fast-paced game and those guys (Crosby, McDavid) are elite players,” he said. “It was certainly one of the faster-paced games that we’ve played in.”
Nick Bonino and Evgeni Malkin scored in regulation for the Penguins (42-16-8), who have won four games in a row.
Crosby said the player most deserving of credit on the night was goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 40 saves.
“It was one after another as far as some of the saves he made,” he said. “He was incredible tonight. You can tell when he’s got that mindset and he’s having fun.
“We made it tough on him, but he was great.”
David Desharnais also scored for the Oilers (35-23-9), who have lost two straight.
Pittsburgh scored the game’s first goal six minutes into the opening period as Oilers goalie Cam Talbot was down on a rebound, allowing Scott Wilson to feed it in front and give Bonino an easy goal.
The Penguins went up 2-0 with two-and-a-half minutes to play in the second as a shot got behind Talbot and was rolling slowly into the net before McDavid tried to kick the puck to safety, only to have it hit Talbot’s pads and go in. Malkin was credited with the goal.
“Kind of a funny play, we’ll be seeing that for a while on the bloopers for sure,” McDavid said.
Edmonton cut into the lead five minutes into the second period as Desharnais poked a loose puck under Fleury for his first goal with the Oilers.
The Oilers tied the game 13 minutes into the third period as McDavid made no mistake on a rebound opportunity, scoring his 23rd goal of the season and 75th point.
Kessel had a breakaway late in the third, but was stopped by Talbot, who made his 60th start of the season.
Both teams had great chances in overtime, particularly on huge saves by Fleury on McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but the game went to the shootout.
“Happy to get a point, I guess, against a very good hockey team,” Talbot said. “We wanted the extra point, but we’ll take one after having to battle back.”
The Penguins are back at it on Saturday in Vancouver for the third stop of a five-game road trip. The Oilers play the fourth game of an eight-game homestand on Sunday against Montreal.