October 10, 2011
The No. 1 overall pick was all over the ice in his debut, and gave the Oilers what they needed against a shorthanded Pittsburgh Penguins team. After a nifty no-look pass from Taylor Hall(notes), RNH won a battle in front and fired a shot past Brent Johnson(notes) at 15:05 of the third period to tie the game 1-1. (Watch the goal here.) Goals by Jordan Eberle(notes) and Ales Hemsky(notes), and some great goaltending by Devan Dubnyk(notes) (33 saves), gave Edmonton the shootout win, 2-1.
Plekanec was the second Hab to receive one of Winnipeg defenseman Johnny Oduya's(notes) "free pizzas," as his coach Claude Noel referred to his turnovers. Following Michael Cammalleri's(notes) opening goal, Plekanec made it 2-0 at 14:17 in the second. After the Jets' Nik Antropov(notes) scored the first goal in the franchise's return to Winnipeg, Plekanec set up Yannick Weber(notes) to make it 3-1 on the power-play. He added another assist on Travis Moen's(notes) goal in the 5-1 Habs' win, and was a plus-3.
No. 3 Star: Brent Johnson, Pittsburgh Penguins
With the Penguins missing Evgeni Malkin(notes) (who was scratched in warm-ups), Johnson was frequently outstanding to help the Pens earn a point on the road. Johnson made 34 saves, including 13 in the first period.
Honorable mention: Kris Letang(notes) had the Penguins goal on the power play. … Carey Price(notes) made 30 saves for the Habs. … Max Pacioretty(notes) scored his first for Montreal. … What else can be said about the way Winnipeg fans welcomed back the Jets? Loud, proud and a standing ovation in the last moments of a loss. Nick Cotsonika has more. ... The Jets' tribute to Rick Rypien was incredibly classy.
Did you know? Edmonton head coach Tom Renney is now 8-0 in home openers.
Dishonorable mention: Despite his heroics, Nugent-Hopkins was 2-13 on faceoffs. … Cammalleri and Jaroslav Spacek(notes) were both injured, Cammalleri nearly badly, but the Habs said they're not serious. … Oduya was a minus-3. … Finally, this Ryan Smyth(notes) elbow on Chris Kunitz(notes) earned him a 5-minute major and a game misconduct. Should it earn him more? (Via reader Josh.)