Nugent-Hopkins beat Theodore with a backhander for the only shootout goal in the Oilers' 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
"Most of the guys went to his glove side," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I just went down there and saw the backhand was going to possibly be open, so I just tried it."
Ryan Jones scored in regulation for the Oilers, and Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves.
The Panthers had a chance to win in the final seconds of overtime. Kris Versteeg had a shot from in front, but Dubnyk stopped the puck on the goal line, pinning it against the post with his left skate.
"He made the move and I was kind of stuck and I couldn't really recover without pulling my leg off the post so I kind of had to just sit there," Dubnyk said. "Obviously, I got lucky with it going across the line there."
Versteeg, who returned March 17 after missing nine games with an injury, hasn't scored a goal since Feb. 12 against the Islanders.
"When you're playing that bad, it doesn't really matter. You're not going to get the bounces," Versteeg said. "It was on the line. It almost went in."
Jason Garrison scored for the Panthers, and Theodore stopped 20 shots.
The Southeast Division-leading Panthers remained four points ahead of Washington.
The Panthers had their five-game home winning streak snapped. Florida has dropped four straight at home against Edmonton since beating the Oilers on March 8, 2002.
"There's no shortcuts right now. We're looking to maybe take a little easier path, to try and take the highway instead of the dirt road and that's just not going to happen this time of year," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "That's a very disappointing loss for our team."
Jones opened the scoring in the second period. Nugent-Hopkins grabbed a loose puck in the Panthers' zone and brought it down the ice. He passed to Jordan Eberle at the top of the right circle, who passed to Jones to the left of the crease. Jones' slap shot went past Theodore at 1:37.
The Panthers tied it at 4:58. Tomas Fleischmann passed from the high slot to Garrison in the left circle and Garrison beat Dubnyk on the glove side. With the goal, Garrison broke the Panthers' franchise record for goals in a season by a defenceman with 16. Garrison shared the previous record of 15 with Jay Bouwmeester 2008-09 and 2007-08, and Bryan McCabe 2008-09.
"It was one of those games that whoever made the last mistake might have cost them the game," Oilers coach Tom Renney said.
Notes: Florida D Brian Campbell played in his 700th NHL game. ... Edmonton LW Taylor Hall missed his fourth game since sustaining a concussion after being knocked unconscious against Calgary on March 16. ... The game was the only meeting of the season between the teams.Suggest a correction