Edmonton Oilers’ superstar Connor McDavid will play in his 300th NHL game on Tuesday. In the 299 games he’s played, McDavid has amassed 134 goals, 259 assists, 393 points and 116 multi-point games. His 1.31 career points-per-game average ties him with Hockey Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for the fifth-highest in NHL history among players with at least 200 games played.
McDavid has won the Art Ross Trophy twice, the Ted Lindsay Award twice and the Hart Memorial Trophy once. He’s also been named to the NHL First All-Star Team three times. Not bad for a player who is still just 22.
Since he arrived in Edmonton in 2015-16, McDavid has delivered so many superb performances, that Oilers fans have begun to expect them on a nightly basis. He’s the type of special player who can put his team on his back and carry them to victory. Here are McDavid’s five most memorable games in the NHL.
1. McDavid Returns
After missing 37 games of his rookie season with a broken clavicle, McDavid returned to action on Feb. 2, 2016. It was another miserable season for the Oilers and their loyal fans, but there was a playoff-like buzz in Oil Country for McDavid’s return against the Columbus Blue Jackets. And he didn’t disappoint.
Midway through the second period with the game tied 1-1, Jordan Eberle picked up the puck in his own zone and pushed it ahead to Benoit Pouliot who left if for McDavid to work his magic. Then, McDavid turned on the jets and deked through three opponents and goalie Joonas Korpisalo to score a goal for the ages and give the Oilers a 2-1 lead.
Just over seven minutes later, McDavid picked up an assist on Pouliot’s power play goal to extend the lead to 3-1. In the third, McDavid set up Eberle from behind the net for a sneaky goal to complete a 5-1 win for Edmonton. McDavid’s goal that night is undoubtedly the most spectacular of his young career.
2. Lighting Up the Lightning
McDavid is a big-game player who elevates his game whenever he plays against another superstar. So, when Nikita Kucherov and the Tampa Bay Lightning rolled into Rogers Place on Feb. 5, 2018, McDavid was ready to put on a show for the home crowd.
Just under two minutes into the game, McDavid opened the scoring on the power play by deflecting a Ryan Strome shot into the top corner. After the Lightning tied it, McDavid got the secondary assist on Leon Draisaitl’s power play marker to give Edmonton back the lead.
In the second frame, McDavid received a touch pass from Draisaitl just outside Tampa’s zone, faked to the middle, then went back to the outside and walked around Matthews Peca before roofing the puck over Andrei Vasilevskiy from a near-impossible angle to make it 3-1 Oilers.
With less than seven minutes on the clock and the Oilers well in control of the game, McDavid tallied a breakaway goal for his third career NHL hat trick and scored from behind the opposing net on an odd bounce for his fourth goal of the night, powering the Oilers to an impressive 6-2 victory.
McDavid became the fifth-youngest player in NHL history to score four goals in a game (21 years and 23 days), and the first Oiler to achieve the feat since Sam Gagner on Feb. 2, 2012, in an 8-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
3. Facing His Childhood Team
Like many kids in Southern Ontario, McDavid was a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs when he was growing up. On. Feb. 11, 2016, McDavid played against his childhood team for the first time, and made an intimidate impact on the game. Early in the opening frame, Pouliot chipped the puck to McDavid on a 2-on-1 and he deked around Jonathan Bernier to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
After the Maple Leafs tied it up, McDavid set up Eberle for two goals in a span of 12 minutes in the second period, including one beautiful pass on the power play through a maze of sticks and skates. Leading 3-2 in the third, McDavid added an insurance marker with a snipe from just above the hash marks.
Then, with Toronto’s goalie pulled, McDavid had a clear shot at the net for his first career NHL hat trick, but showed exceptional character by giving Eberle his first three-goal game instead, as the Oilers defeated the Maple Leafs 5-2 at Rexall Place.
Although he gave up an opportunity for the hat trick, McDavid became the ninth-youngest player (19 years and 29 days) in NHL history to score five points in a game. He also joined Dave Lumley and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as the only rookies in franchise history to accomplish the feat.
4. Home Sweet Home
The Oilers opened the state-of-the-art Rogers Place in downtown Edmonton on Oct. 12, 2016. That alone would have made this a historic date in team history. However, earlier that day, Wayne Gretzky rejoined the organization for the first time since he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on Aug. 9, 1988. And when the Oilers faced the rival Calgary Flames that evening, McDavid became the youngest captain in NHL history (19 years and 266 days).
With the Oilers ahead by one late in the first period, McDavid gave the puck to Oscar Klefbom who sent in Zack Kassian on a breakaway that he buried to give the team a 3-1 lead. After the Flames battled back to tie the game 3-3 in the second period, McDavid banked in a backhand shot off Brian Elliott to put the Oilers back in front 4-3.
Less than two minutes after McDavid scored his first goal in his new home, he was hooked by Dennis Wideman on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. McDavid entered the zone with a burst of speed before slowing down his pace near the top of the circles to throw off Elliott’s timing, and then lifted the puck over his blocker to add to the Oilers’ lead.
Edmonton went on to win their home-opener by a score of 7-4, and McDavid earned first star honours with three points. That game was the launching pad for the Oilers’ best regular season record since 1986-87 and McDavid’s first scoring title.
5. McDavid Caps Off Great Performance in OT
Although the Oilers and perennial Stanley Cup contender Washington Capitals have been at opposite ends of the NHL standings for most of the last decade, Edmonton has played well at home against Washington in recent seasons. Still, the Oilers had a hill to climb on Thursday, trailing the Capitals 3-1 after 40 minutes.
McDavid, who had no points at this stage in the game, played perhaps his best period of hockey in the NHL in the final frame. Just over four minutes into the third period, McDavid finally got on the board with a great pass to Draisaitl, who fired the puck into the top corner to cut the Oilers’ deficit to one.
Every time he touched the ice, he seemingly created a brilliant scoring chance. McDavid legitimately could have had six points in a single period if not for the stellar play of Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby. Fortunately for No. 97 and the Oilers, he was able to get one past Holtby with 1:44 remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, McDavid and Draisaitl finished things off as only they can by scooping up a loose puck behind their own goal and promptly depositing it in the back of the Capitals’ net following a scintillating 2-on-1 rush up ice. If you didn’t watch McDavid in the final 22 minutes of this game, you missed out.
Eric Friesen is a freelance sports broadcaster and journalist in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Eric has diplomas in Broadcasting from Mount Royal University in Calgary and Sports Journalism from Centennial College in Toronto. A lifelong hockey fan, Eric has followed the Edmonton Oilers for more than 20 years. He cheers for the Oilers because of his hockey hero Wayne Gretzky, who played his more productive seasons in Oil Country.