<
>

Oilers rookie Connor McDavid scores in return from shoulder injury

Rookie center Connor McDavid returned to the Edmonton Oilers lineup and gave them instant offense.

McDavid scored his team's second goal at 9:58 of the second period and added two assists to help the Oilers to a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

He had practiced Monday with the Oilers and said he was ready to return from his broken left collarbone.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, got hurt when he was ridden hard into the boards in the second period of a 4-2 victory against Philadelphia on Nov. 3. He has missed 37 games, almost half a season.

"He is ready to go," coach Todd McLellan said Monday after McDavid centered a line between Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot in practice.

McDavid spent the last week practicing with the Oilers' AHL team in Bakersfield. Asked if he was nervous heading into just the 14th game of his NHL career, McDavid said, "Anxious is probably the better word. I'm excited. It feels like my first game all over again."

McDavid said he was not going to let the injury play on his mind when the puck dropped Tuesday night against Columbus.

"The doctors wouldn't let me play if I wasn't 100 percent," he said. "They say it's safe to play, so it's safe to play."

McDavid, 19, now has six goals and 15 points in 14 games.

Before Tuesday's win, he hadn't played one shift with Eberle, who was out for the start of the season with a shoulder injury. By the time Eberle came back, McDavid was out.

McDavid said Monday that he believed they would mesh well.

"He has got those quick great hands and a deceiving shot that fools goalies a lot of the time," McDavid said. "If you get him the puck in a good spot, you know he's going to finish it."

Eberle says it might be easier for McDavid to get back to game speed, given that all NHL players are coming off the All-Star break.

"With his speed and the way he thinks the game he'll be fine," Eberle said.

McLellan said the plan for McDavid is to "open the door and say go," but said the team will be watching his minutes to see how he is doing.

"The way he skated today (Monday)," McLellan said, "I'm not as worried about Connor as I am the other 19 that have been off a week."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.