EDMONTON – When the Edmonton Oilers selected Taylor Hall first overall in last year’s NHL entry draft, they were hoping they had a game-breaker.
Hall lived up to that billing Saturday afternoon, registering his first career hat trick as Edmonton rallied from a two-goal third period deficit to beat the Atlanta Thrashers 5-3, earning a third straight home win for the first time in almost a year.
“It’s a great feeling anytime a player can get a hat trick and contribute to your team,”Hall said.“But if we don’t get those power plays and play strong as a group in the third, I don’t get those goals.
“It was a really fun night on all parts. Everyone chanting your name and all of the hats raining down, It’s something I will never forget.”
Edmonton head coach Tom Renney said Hall’s effort is what the team is hoping to see more of from him.
“We’re a team that is fighting to gain respect and create an identity and at the same time throw a wrench in other teams’plans,”he said.“Taylor seized the opportunity to really sign this one.”
Magnus Paajarvi and Ales Hemsky also scored for the Oilers (19-32-8), who last won three straight at Rexall Place last March.
Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane replied for the Thrashers (25-25-10), who have dropped five straight road games during a stretch that has also seen them lose seven-of-eight and 14-of-17 overall.
“We gave them life,”Atlanta coach Craig Ramsey said of his team’s third-period collapse.“Everything was going in our favour and then we take three penalties and give them those power-play chances and get behind.
“They walked them out and stuffed them in the net. It was really disheartening to see that. We didn’t get it done killing penalties and we didn’t get it done on the power play.”
As for Hall’s future?
“I think that guy might play,”Ramsey said.
Atlanta went up 1-0 on its first shot of the game 4 1/2 minutes in as Byfuglien’s floater from the point went in off Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk’s glove.
The Thrashers almost went ahead 2-0 with six minutes to play in the first as Bryan Little was the beneficiary of a giveaway in the Oilers zone but fired a shot off the post.
Atlanta did go up 2-0 just 59 seconds in the second as Ladd golfed in a rebound for his 21st goal of the season.
Edmonton cut the deficit to 2-1 with five minutes remaining in the period as Paajarvi scored on a wrist shot from the top of the circle that went through Atlanta goalie Chris Mason’s pads.
The Thrashers countered 1:12 into the third as Kane went around Dustin Penner and scored his 17th goal of the season with the two teams playing one man short.
But the Oilers rallied to tie the score with two power-play goals by Hall less than a minute apart.
Just 30 seconds after Atlanta scored, Hall stepped out from the side of the net and surprised Mason with a shot through his legs. Hall scored again 40 seconds later, converting a pass from behind the net by Hemsky.
With seven minutes left in regulation, Atlanta’s Nik Antropov took a high-sticking double minor. Hall then scored to complete the natural hat trick with yet another power-play goal to give him 20 on the season.
Hemsky rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 12 seconds left.
Edmonton returns to action Tuesday in Minnesota while the Thrashers close out a three-game road trip in Buffalo on Wednesday.
NOTES—It was the only meeting this season between the two teams. Atlanta has won the previous two encounters…The Thrashers had two new faces in the lineup as recent acquisitions forward Blake Wheeler and defenceman Mark Stuart joined their new team after a trade Friday with Boston that saw Rich Peverley and minor-league defenceman Boris Valabik heading to the Bruins…Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle came in with eight points in eight games since returning from an ankle injury…Atlanta’s penalty kill is second-worst in the NHL at 76.5 per cent. Only Edmonton is worse at 75.5 per cent…NHL commissioner Gary Bettman took in the game in advance of heading to Calgary on Sunday for the Heritage Classic outdoor game.