After recording the first hat trick of the NHL season, Connor McDavid takes his Edmonton Oilers into a home back-to-back set of games against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Oilers and Canadiens first will meet Saturday, as they try out being division foes for the first time under the COVID-19 inspired realignment, which created an all-Canada North Division. The teams meet again on Monday.
McDavid finished off the seventh regular-season hat trick of his career in the second period Thursday, as the Oilers stormed out to a 5-2 victory over the Canucks, after losing at home to Vancouver 5-3 in Wednesday's season opener. Leon Draisaitl had four assists.
It remains to be seen if the pattern will hold that the team who loses the opener of a back-to-back is able to flip the result in the second game, but McDavid suggested there is precedent for that becoming a familiar sight.
"It was obviously not our best effort (Wednesday), and I thought our group was really solid (Thursday)," McDavid said. "We came out with a lot of energy, it seemed like we had a just a little more juice than they did, but that happens in a back-to-back. Our power play was good, our (penalty kill) was good, and five-on-five, I thought we did a pretty good job as well."
Thursday's effort looked more like the Oilers team that finished fifth in the Western Conference standings last season. But far more work needs to be done to forget the disappointment of their playoff qualifying-round defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks last season, when they did not show bounce-back capabilities.
"Right from the start, we had the right mindset," said Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who added a pair of goals Thursday. "We knew we needed to clean some things up after (Wednesday), and coming in a back-to-back, it was a good chance to get things going right away. You don't have much time to think and dwell on things."
The Canadiens did not have a back-to-back to open the season. They enter Saturday off a disappointing 5-4 overtime defeat at Toronto on Wednesday. Saturday's game is Montreal's second of six road games to open the season.
Josh Anderson gave the Canadiens a 4-3 lead just over one minute into the third period, but the offense went silent from there. Anderson, who scored a pair of goals in the opener, was making his Canadiens debut after he was acquired in an October trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Montreal also had a 3-1 lead in the second period before giving up two power-play goals that allowed Toronto to tie the score.
The Maple Leafs tied it again midway through the final period on a goal from Jimmy Vesey, before winning it on a Morgan Rielly goal with 1:36 remaining in the extra period.
"I think we were the better team," a disappointed Anderson said. "We talked about before the game staying out of the (penalty) box because that's where they get momentum, and obviously they did.
"I think anybody watching the game (knows) we were the better team out there, but we're not going to forget this one. We'll come out next time and play better."
--Field Level Media