Letestu scores OT winner, Oilers beat Devils 2-1
NEWARK, N.J. – Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers fended off frustration, even though they were widely outplaying the New Jersey Devils and had little to show for their effort.
Patience finally paid off as Mark Letestu scored a power-play goal at 3:59 of overtime and Cam Talbot stopped 19 shots to lead the Oilers to a 2-1 win Saturday night.
Edmonton trailed until Matthew Benning got his first NHL goal at 3:33 of the third period.
"I think in past times, last year for sure, we definitely would have gotten down on ourselves and been frustrated," McDavid said. "We would have turned it into a 'me show', meaning guys were trying to do it themselves. Tonight we were sharing the puck well and it didn't matter that we were down all game long."
The win improved the Oilers to 6-1-2 in their last nine.
Cory Schneider, under siege all night, made 41 saves and Miles Wood scored for the Devils.
That the Oilers were down so long was a tribute to Schneider, who made Wood's first-period goal stand up until Benning connected early in the third.
The tide was flowing Edmonton's way all night, and it finally produced the win in the overtime.
"We were patient enough to stick with it, didn't have to open it up much and eventually got the win, but it took a lot of work to get it," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said.
The Devils' Travis Zajac was whistled for slashing Connor McDavid with 2:19 remaining on the clock in the extra period, putting Edmonton on the power play. The Oilers converted for the victory on Letestu's shot from the top of the left circle.
The Devils did earn but a point, but more importantly, their top goalie regained his form.
Schneider was awful the night before, surrendering three goals on only five shots before being yanked in the first period of a 4-2 to loss to Toronto.
Devils coach John Hynes again went with Schneider, and the goalie valued the vote of confidence.
"It was a good opportunity for me to bounce back," Schneider said. "I appreciate coach coming back with me. He could have gone the other way. It was good for him to believe in me. That's part of the game. You have to bounce back from bad performances."
The Devils had trouble coping with the Oilers' speed all game. Playing on consecutive nights, they spent almost the entire game with only five defensemen after Yohann Auvitu left with a lower-body injury after playing one shift in the first period.
This was the first meeting of the clubs since the summer trade that sent defenseman Adam Larsson to Edmonton for left wing Taylor Hall.
Larsson has been a major contributor as Edmonton makes a strong bid reach the playoffs for the first time since 2006. Hall leads the Devils in scoring despite missing 10 games due to injury. Even with Hall's contribution, New Jersey has been languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
"I would have loved to score," Hall said "It's not going in for me at all right now. That's the way it goes sometimes. I think the chances are there. We spent a lot of time in our end tonight, and we relied on Schneids a lot tonight. We've got to find a way to get out of our end."
Wood scored the only goal of the opening period as the Devils escaped with the lead despite being outshot 16-7.
The Oilers dominated the early play, using their speed to pepper Schneider with shots. He held his ground, fending off bids from McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl as the Oilers piled up an 11-3 shots advantage.
Wood turned on the jets and sped around defenseman Eric Gryba to tuck a backhander between Talbot's pads at 9:44.
The Devils continued to cling to the goal lead through the second period even though the Oilers unloaded another 14 shots on Schneider.
Schneider stretch across to deny McDavid's wraparound bid early in the period and later blocked Letestu's rebound blast.
At the other end, Talbot faced a few challenges sparked by Hall who set up PA Parenteau for a testing shot, and fired his own drive from left circle that was turned away with a pad save.
The relentless Oilers pressure finally paid off as Benning on Edmonton's 32nd shot. Matt Hendricks, screening in front of the net, was initially credited with the tally on the point that slipped by Schneider.
Adam Henrique had a golden opportunity from the slot to give the Devils a lead with two minutes left, only to be robbed by Talbot.
NOTES: The game concluded a busy stretch at the Prudential Center with the Devils playing here Friday and Saturday nights. Sandwiched in between was Seton Hall hosting DePaul on Saturday afternoon. . New Jersey placed C Jacob Josefson on injured reserve due to illness and recalled, Auvitu from Albany (AHL). ... Devils saluted Larsson with a video-board tribute during a first-period stop in play.
Oilers: Conclude a four-game road trip in Ottawa on Sunday.
Devils: Host Florida on Monday.