The Edmonton Oilers did not enjoy much success during the 2010s, but there were some great moments. They added high-end talent through the NHL Draft, but the supporting cast has been consistently awful. Still, when you have superstar players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in the lineup, statistical achievements and individual awards should be expected.
When putting together this list, I only wanted to include the goals that most Oilers fans could instantly visualize. For example, Sam Gagner scored eight points in a game in 2011-12. That was the greatest individual performance by an Oilers player since the glory days, but there isn’t one particular goal that stands out from that night.
Draisaitl scored 50 goals last season and McDavid had consecutive 40-goal outputs in 2017-18 and 2018-19, but those landmark tallies probably wouldn’t crack their respective top-five goals in the NHL. Here are the Oilers’ four most memorable goals of the decade.
Eberle’s First NHL Goal
Going into the Oilers’ home opener in 2010-11, the spotlight shone brightest on prized draft pick Taylor Hall. However, it was fellow young gun Jordan Eberle who stole the show that night. Eberle was already a fan favourite in Edmonton before playing a single NHL game, thanks to his heroics at the 2009 and 2010 World Junior Championships.
With the Oilers leading 1-0 early in the third period, Eberle scored arguably the best first goal in NHL history. Jim Vandermeer picked up a loose puck behind the net in his own zone and made a nice touch pass off the boards to spring Eberle and Shawn Horcoff on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush.
While it looked like Eberle was going to send the puck over to Horcoff for a shot, he showed exceptional hands and patience to toe drag around the sprawling defender and go backhand top-shelf over Miikka Kiprusoff. Eberle went on to score 165 goals in seven seasons with the Oilers, but none were more memorable than his first in the league.
Yakupov’s Sliding Celebration
Nail Yakupov’s tenure with the Oilers didn’t go as planned. The former first-overall pick in 2012 played just four seasons in Edmonton before he was traded to the St. Louis Blues for spare parts. While he never turned into the sniper some scouts projected he would be, Yakupov did score some nice goals in the NHL. However, it was the celebration following his second NHL goal that Oilers fans still talk about seven years later.
Trailing 1-0 with just over a minute to play in a game against the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 24, 2013, the Oilers thought they had tied it up when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fired the puck into the open net. However, the Kings challenged that Gagner interfered with goalie Jonathan Quick, and the goal was overturned.
Then, with the Oilers’ net empty, Eric Belanger won an offensive zone draw back to Justin Schultz, who had his shot blocked, but Hall grabbed the loose puck and fired it on net. Quick stopped the first shot, but Yakupov batted it out of the air and into the back of the net to tie the game.
He proceeded to skate past all of his teammates who were trying to celebrate with him and slid on his knees all the way to the Oilers’ zone. Gagner scored in overtime on the power play to give the Oilers a 2-1 win, but it’s Yakupov’s celebration that fans remember about that night.
McDavid’s Incredible 1-On-3 Goal
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 Oilers fans with the team well out of playoff contention by the All-Star break, but there was a playoff-like buzz in Oil Country for McDavid’s return against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He didn’t disappoint.
Midway through the second frame, 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 skated in with a full head of steam on a one-on-three rush and dangled past three opponents and goalie Joonas Korpisalo to score a goal for the ages.
McDavid has scored many outstanding goals during his young NHL career, but this one remains the gold standard.
Desharnais’ Playoff Overtime Winner
Former Oilers’ general manager Peter Chiarelli acquired David Desharnais at the 2016-17 trade deadline to give his team some added depth for a playoff run. After an underwhelming showing with his new club down the stretch drive, Desharnais delivered arguably the Oilers’ most important goal of the decade in the playoffs that spring.
In their first playoff appearance since 2006, the Oilers returned home for Game 5 against the San Jose Sharks with the series tied 2-2. Trailing 3-2 late in the third period, Desharnais set up Oscar Klefbom for the game-tying marker, which sent Rogers Place into a frenzy.
With just under two minutes to play in the first overtime frame, the Oilers were cycling the puck in the Sharks’ end when Desharnais jumped over the boards and skated right into the slot. Then, Draisaitl put a perfect saucer pass right on his tape and Desharnais one-timed it over the shoulder of goalie Martin Jones to give the Oilers a 4-3 victory.
Desharnais was only an Oiler for a short time, but the current generation of Oilers fans will never forget that goal.
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.