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McDavid’s legend grows with Gretzky-like effort in front of Oilers greats

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EDMONTON — On a night where the Edmonton Oilers honoured another legend — the last of the dynasty era Hall of Famers — it was the legend of Connor McDavid that grew a foot.

They came to watch Kevin Lowe’s No. 4 rise to the rafters at Rogers Place. But they walked into the Edmonton night marvelling at their next Hall of Famer, as McDavid brought the house down with a late, game-tying goal that was perhaps the best he’s ever scored.

Hyperbole, you say?

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Let’s ask his teammates:

“It’s the best goal I have ever seen,” said Zach Hyman.

“He’ll downplay it,” Darnell Nurse said, nodding to his right at McDavid in the post-game interviews. “But that was… probably the nicest goal I’ve ever seen.”

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What a fabulous, throwback night it was in Edmonton Friday, as the old Oilers Hall of Famers — minus Wayne Gretzky and Grant Fuhr — gathered for one last jersey retirement. As they looked on, drinks in hand, Edmonton fell behind 4-1, tied the game and fell behind again.

It was an evening that deserved better than a close-but-no-cigar comeback bid. Cue McDavid, whose Gretzkian effort tied the game with 2:59 to play before Leon Draisaitl’s overtime snipe left the Oilers at 9-1 and the crowd apoplectic.

“Paul Coffey was talking at the Gala last night for Kevin,” said Oilers head coach Dave Tippett. “He (said he) loved 8-7 games. This wasn’t 8-7, but we got close to it. Fun game.”

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On an evening where they gathered to fete Lowe — the Oilers’ first-ever draft pick, their first-ever goal scorer, and a stay-at-home defenceman who anchored the blue line on all five of Edmonton’s Stanley Cups — McDavid stole the show with a game-tying goal that should go into a time capsule.

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McDavid bobbled a puck at the offensive blue line and had to take it into the neutral zone, then wait for his teammates to clear the zone before he could enter again. As he swooped and swerved with the puck, four New York Rangers built a red, white and blue fence that no mortal player would have challenged, one-on-four.

As Dallas Eakins used to say, McDavid narrowed his eyes and went right at the box, came out the other side, put a juicy deke on goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and scored into an open net.

You’ve seen it by now and it was incredible.

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They will play that clip in this building one day, ironically, while No. 97 is going into the rafters.

“Ninety nine percent of the league, dumps the puck in there,” said Tippett. “He’s scored some amazing goals… (GM) Ken Holland and I were talking about that after the game, and that’s going right up there (with the best of them).”

The media poked and prodded at McDavid to lay claim to a level of wizardry on the play, some kind of sorcery, and he fought it.

“I was unhappy I couldn’t keep the puck in the zone,” he said. “I kind of lost the handle — I kind of lost the handle of the puck all night — but I just tried to pick my way through there. The guys did a good job of getting back on-side, and I tried to just pick my way through. Find my way through.”

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What would command him to take on four Rangers, with three minutes left on the clock in a 5-4 game?

“It’s probably not the best idea to take on four guys every night,” he said, “but the situation was just kind of weird. Everyone was kind of coming up, I was coming down the pipe… Just tried to make a play.”

Where does this goal rate in the pantheon of highlight-reel goals he has scored?

“Yeah, it was a nice goal. I’ve scored some nice goals in my career, and that’s up there with a few of them,” he said. “The timing of it, with the timing and the night, it definitely felt a little bigger than just a game in November.

“I’m paid to score big goals, and I’m paid to do that type of stuff. You know, just doing my job.”

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Jesse Puljujarvi had two goals, with Finnish legend Jari Kurri in the house, as the Oilers set a team record by notching a powerplay goal in each of their first 10 games of the season.

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McDavid had a goal and three points Friday and has a point in every game this season. He extended his regular season scoring skein to 18 games, dating back to last season.

The Oilers are 9-1 — as good an opening 10 games as this franchise has enjoyed since merging from the World Hockey Association — and now hit the road after an emotional, fevered win in front of a nearly packed house and all the legends of their past.

It was a storybook night, and maybe — just maybe — just the first chapter in a storybook season.

“We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. It’s 10 games in,” McDavid said. “It’s a good start. It’s a special night with all the legends in the building… Honestly, we wanted to perform well, and we didn’t do that for a large part of the game. But finding a way to win a game like that?

“You can build on it.”

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You can build a legend on it.





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College football rankings: Ohio State, TCU have earned spots in final four

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Michigan and Georgia are clear playoff teams. We’ll soon find out who the CFP Selection Committee thinks deserves a spot beside them.



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No. 11 Utah Utes take down the No. 4 USC Trojans for the PAC 12 Championship | Number One CFB Show

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RJ Young reacts to the No. 11 Utah Utes taking down the No. 4 USC Trojans for the PAC 12 Championship.



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Canucks’ Luke Schenn passes Brooks Orpik for most hits by an NHL defenceman

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Luke Schenn of the Vancouver Canucks, after a six-hit night, has been crowned the hit king amongst NHL defencemen, passing Brooks Orpik for most hits since the stat has been recorded.

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Some 2,947 hits later, the journeyman hasn’t stopped doing what he does best and is now able to say he stands at the peak of his craft. He hit the mark in 888 games.

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A couple of days ago Schenn told Sportsnet that he “didn’t really think too much of it,” and that he “doesn’t really care too much about the number,” however as he broke the record, the fans in attendance made sure to let him know how much they cared.

Chants of “LUKE! LUKE!” broke out at Rogers Arena in Vancouver for the new leader in the category.

The 33-year-old has played for seven teams throughout his career and won two Stanley Cups during his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning. On every team he’s been on, he’s done what he does best. Hit.

Five forwards still remain above him on the hits leaderboard: Milan Lucic, Alex Ovechkin, Matt Martin, Dustin Brown, and the recently coronated Cal Clutterbuck sits atop the rankings with 3,647.

It was a celebratory day for the Schenn family, as brother Brayden played in his 800th NHL game across the country as his St. Louis Blues took on the Pittsburgh Penguins. But Brayden still has a ways to go if he wants to catch up to Luke’s physical domination, as the centre only has 1,700 hits to his name.

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