Robby Fabbri had kind of a quiet NHL debut going Thursday before bringing a standing-room-crowd of 19,327 flying out of their seats on opening night at Scottrade Center.
The 19-year-old rookie scored his first NHL goal at 9:29 of the third period after taking a no-look drop pass from Jori Lehtera, helping the St. Louis Blues to a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
“I can’t really remember, but it was a great feeling,” said Fabbri, a bit overwhelmed after scoring his first goal in his first game. “Getting in that huddle there with the guys felt great.”
Fabbri seemed to anticipate the play, finding an opening in the slot to become a target for Lehtera.
“I came off the bench and I saw the play there,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if he saw or heard me, so for him to make that play, it was an amazing pass.”
Troy Brouwer added a late empty-net goal in his first game with the Blues to clinch the win.
Fabbri grew up playing against Edmonton’s much-hyped rookie, 2015 first overall draft pick Connor McDavid. Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was asked about the irony of Fabbri getting his first NHL goal before McDavid.
“Both good players. Robby got on the scoreboard, though,” Pietrangelo said. “Plus one for us. That McDavid’s going to be a good player. He’s a special talent. Pretty impressed.”
“I guess I’ve got some bragging rights,” joked Fabbri. “We’ll see how long that lasts. He had a great game as well, but it’s a great way to finish my first game.”
Fabbri, the Blues’ 2014 first-round pick, burned Oilers goalie Cam Talbot with a wrist shot.
“The amount of skill he has, he’s going to make plays,” Pietrangelo said. “He’s going to make an impact night-in, night-out. It’s a great pass by Jori though; hopefully he gets more of those. Those are easy ones though, a goal scorer like that.”
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Fabbri had 25 goals and 51 points in only 30 games last season with Guelph of the Ontario Hockey League. He also helped Team Canada win a gold medal at the 2015 World Junior championships.
The Oilers grabbed an early lead in one of the strangest goals in recent memory.
Right off of a faceoff deep in the Blues’ end, Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck and it deflected into the net off of teammate Alexander Steen. Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the goal since he was the closest player in the vicinity.
“I’m not going to do that again,” Pietrangelo said. “It’s a bad bounce. We were laughing about it after the game here. Get that out of the way early. Rather early in the game than last minute. It’s a tough one, but we got it back. “
Blues goaltender Brian Elliott, who stopped 23 of 24 shots, couldn’t do much about that one, but had two big stops in the first period on Justin Schultz and Matt Hendricks.
Vladimir Tarasenko tied it in the second period after taking a long stretch pass from Pietrangelo. Tarasenko tore in alone on Talbot before beating him from 24 feet out on a sizzling wrist shot.
“I was a little bit nervous because it’s the first game and you always want to score fast on the first goal,” Tarasenko said. “It was a great play by Petro, great pass.”
Tarasenko was the Blues’ scoring leader last season with 37 goals, the most by a Blues player since Brad Boyes had 43 in 2007-08.
CONNOR McDAVID WATCH
A media throng not typically seen outside the latter playoff rounds descended on Scottrade Center Thursday in search of one player — Edmonton’s McDavid. The entire press box was packed and Blues staffers said some requests for spots had to be turned away.
There were national media from throughout Canada and the U.S. to witness the debut of McDavid, who some experts have called the best prospect since Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby.
Were there butterflies as he prepared to make his much anticipated debut, which included two shots and no scoring?
“Of course,” said McDavid, who had 44 goals and 120 points in 44 games last season for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters. “I only get to do this once and I’m certainly a little bit nervous but I feel pretty good and I’m just really excited to get going.
“I’m living out my dream, so there’s nothing better than that.”
Edmonton’s Taylor Hall, himself a former first overall pick in 2010, hopes people will temper their enthusiasm a bit for the game’s next potential star.
“We all see what he can do in practice and the games,” Hall said. “It’s important to remember he’s 18. I’m 23 and I still have bad games. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world and still has bad games. There’s going to be some trials and some errors, but I think that he’s in a position to succeed and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow.”