EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers may already be wishing they had re-upped Justin Schultz for more than just a one-year bridge deal.
Schultz had a goal and an assist and was named the game’s first star as the Oilers started the pre-season schedule with a 3-1 split-squad victory at home over the rival Calgary Flames on Sunday night.
“I felt really good tonight. I wanted to play my game, which is jumping up in the rush, which I thought I did quite well,” said the third-year Oilers defenceman. “The legs were there, it was a good win tonight.
“It was nice to obviously play a real game. It’s going to prepare us for the season and I thought it was a good effort from everyone.”
Marco Roy and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored for the Oilers, while highly-touted 2014 third overall draft pick Leon Draisaitl picked up an assist in his debut.
“I was a little bit nervous at the beginning,” Draisaitl said. “I think that’s a little bit normal. I think I did OK, it’s still early in the season and I think once I feel more comfortable, I’ll be better. Now it’s against NHL players and that’s why they’re in that league, so it’s definitely a big difference.”
Curtis Glencross responded with the lone goal for Calgary.
“We have to be satisfied,” said Flames associate coach Jacques Cloutier. “We had some good moments. The guys got a bit deflated after they scored their second goal. But I really liked how the guys kept going in the third period. Our forecheck was very good. Obviously we need to throw more pucks at the net. That is something we need to work on.”
The rest of the rosters for both teams played a game in Calgary—where T.J. Brodie scored the only goal in the Flames’ 1-0 win—at the same time.
In Edmonton, Draisaitl made an immediate impact in the game. Just 1:28 into the first period, Draisaitl made a nice cross-ice feed to a hard-charging Roy who sent the puck past Flames goalie Joni Ortio.
The Flames tied the game up five minutes into the first on a power play as a Kris Russell point shot was deflected in the slot by Glencross, catching Edmonton starter Ben Scrivens off guard.
The Oilers went up 2-1 midway through the first as Schultz carried the puck into the zone with speed and then banked a shot from behind the goal off of a Calgary defender and into the net.
Edmonton took a two-goal lead with a power-play goal six and a half minutes into the second period as Nugent-Hopkins moved in from the point and took a shot from just past the top of the face-off circle, utilizing a Greg Chase screen to beat Ortio stick-side.
Ortio remained in net for the start of the third, while Edmonton switched out Scrivens for Richard Bachman.
“It was good to get the whole game in,” Ortio said. “It felt good to kind to get my rhythm back. Even though I played that one game in Penticton (at the Young Stars rookie tournament) it is still early on in the year. I started feeling better out there as the game kept going along.”
Both teams return to pre-season action on Wednesday as the Oilers travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets and the Flames play host to the Arizona Coyotes in a game in Sylvan Lake, Alta.
Notes: Both teams dressed more veteran-laden lineups for the game taking place in their home rinks.…Notably absent from both of their games on Sunday was Oilers forward Jordan Eberle. As a result, recently-signed seventh round pick Greg Chase got a chance to play on the top line with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Chase scored 85 points in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen last season.…Edmonton fans got their first look at Draisaitl, who was centring a line with David Perron and Benoit Pouliot.…Not playing on Sunday was 2014 fourth overall pick for Calgary Sam Bennett, who is still sidelined with a groin injury he suffered at the Young Stars Classic rookie tournament in Penticton.