COLUMBUS, Ohio – For No. 1 draft pick Taylor Hall, seven games was an eternity.
Hall scored his first NHL goal for the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night, but Nikita Filatov and Rick Nash converted in the shootout to give the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory.
“Definitely not the prettiest goal of my life, but I’ll take it for sure,” Hall said of his tying tip-in at 9:57 of the third period. “It was a big goal for our team as well. I’ve been waiting a long time and I’ve been asked about it a million times. I put a lot of pressure on myself just because it’s out there.
“I definitely wanted to score tonight and I had a feeling before the game that this was going to be the night.”
The game was played before 9,128 fans, the smallest crowd to watch the Blue Jackets at home.
Hall was in the crease to deflect a shot by Theo Peckham, who collected the puck for Hall.
“I was doing an interview before and they showed it on camera,” said Hall, a 19-year-old from Kingston, Ont., who played last year for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. “I think they make a plaque out of it or whatever. It’s certainly a good feeling. I had some people here—I saw some Spitfire jerseys in the stands—so it was a pretty fun night.”
The only damper on the fun for Hall was that it was yet another Oilers defeat.
Hall also assisted on Shawn Horcoff’s first-period goal for the Oilers, who have lost six in a row and are 2-23-3 in their last 28 road games dating to mid-December of last season.
Samuel Pahlsson and Kyle Wilson had goals in regulation for the Blue Jackets, who have won three in a row and five of six. Steve Mason made 25 saves.
“Sometimes you win ugly and sometimes you win in dramatic fashion,” said Columbus coach Scott Arniel, who was right on both counts. “It was a wild and scrambly game.”
In the shootout, Edmonton’s Sam Gagner went first and appeared to have scored after he got Mason down on the ice with a fake. But Mason reached back with his stick to flick the puck away at the last instant.
“The guys are really bearing down and sticking to what their individual jobs are,” Mason said. “It’s paying off when you have guys competing hard the whole game. It really puts some pressure on the other team and they make mistakes. And we just have to capitalize on them.”
Nash then buried a hard shot with very little deception, just past Devan Dubnyk’s blocker.
Next up for the Oilers was Gilbert Brule, a former No. 1 draft pick of the Blue Jackets who was traded after two largely unproductive seasons. He was roundly booed as he skated in on Mason, ripping a shot that clanged off the right post.
Columbus then went with Filatov, taken sixth overall in the 2008 draft, in the extra session. He had fallen into disfavour a year ago under then-coach Ken Hitchcock, electing to return to play in his native Russia rather than go to the minors.
Filatov carefully skated in on Dubnyk, faked and then netted a high backhander to clinch the win.
“I tried to do the same move on a breakaway during the game, but it wasn’t good enough,” Filatov said.
Pahlsson notched his first goal on a one-timer off a nifty pass from the back boards by Chris Clark, who assisted on both Columbus goals in regulation.
Horcoff picked up the equalizer, benefiting from tic-tac-toe passing. Hall feathered a cross-crease pass from the right wing to fellow rookie Jordan Eberle, who slid a perfect setup to Horcoff at the right doorstep.
With just under two minutes left in the period, Wilson’s shot was blocked by Dubnyk. But the rebound came right back to Wilson and he scored on his second chance.
Coach Tom Renney said the young Oilers are progressing.
“The kids are just playing,” Renney said. “They understand they are getting an opportunity here and they certainly don’t want to let anybody down. This is a good point in time to have them.”
NOTES: Columbus D Jan Hejda was scratched because of a strained calf muscle. … The previous smallest crowd for a Blue Jackets game at Nationwide Arena was 9,802 on Oct. 20. … The game matched teams with the two worstrecords in the Western Conference last season. … Dubnyk had 39 saves. … The Blue Jackets are 12-19-6 overall against the Oilers.