EDMONTON – Taylor Hall’s first NHL fight ended badly, with him falling to the ice and hurting his left ankle.
He still says he’d do it all again.
Hall had a goal and an assist before leaving in the second period with the injury as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Thursday.
Shortly after making a stellar move to almost score and then delivering a big hit, Hall got launched into a scrap with Derek Dorsett with six and a half minutes left in the second. However, Hall landed awkwardly during the tussle and left the game limping. Tests will be performed on Friday to determine the extent of the injury.
Hall, who only fought twice in junior hockey, felt players were taking advantage of him at the pro level and that enough was enough.
“It’s bad luck that I had to leave the game but I would probably do it again if I had to,” he said. “There comes a time when you have to. There’s nothing wrong with stepping up and trying to defend yourself because eventually if you keep getting hit and people keep coming in for you, it’s not a great feeling to be the guy that keeps on being rescued.”
Dorsett said the fight kind of took him by surprise.
“I just finished my check on him, I was going to skate away and he just grabbed me and started punching me,” he said. ‘I dropped my gloves and away she went.
“I’m not sure what happened. I hit him and he just kind of fell.”
Hall said it’s the first time he had the combination of a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game.
“I’ve never had one of those before,” he said. “I don’t know if I want to have too many more, especially with the repercussions.”
For his part, Oilers head coach Tom Renney wasn’t upset to see his young star player drop the gloves.
“We drafted character so we definitely expect character to show up and it did,” he said of Hall, the first overall selection in the 2010 entry draft. “Good for him. Scraps happen. He had enough of the liberties.”
Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle and Andrew Cogliano also scored for the last-place Oilers (22-35-8) who have won two in row and six of their last nine.
Renney was impressed with how the Oilers hung on with Hall going out within a couple of days of Ales Hemsky suffering an injury and one of the team’s other leading scorers, Dustin Penner, being traded at the deadline.
“This is a pretty good team that is after a playoff spot and we were undermanned and they have a much stronger lineup than we do and we beat them,” he said. “We beat them fair and square. I think that speaks to the character of this group.”
Matt Calvert and Scottie Upshall responded for the Blue Jackets (31-25-7) who have lost three in a row and are in danger of slipping out of the tight Western Conference playoff race.
“I don’t think we were prepared for the game,” Dorsett said. “They’re a young team that has a lot of speed and they were buzzing around. We got sloppy and were turning too many pucks over.”
Columbus had a great opportunity to take the lead halfway through the first as Edmonton defender Richard Petiot hooked down R.J. Umberger on a breakaway, leading to a penalty shot. However, Umberger shot the puck over the net on the attempt.
Less than a minute later it looked like the Blue Jackets had scored as Upshall slid a backhand shot under Edmonton starter Devan Dubnyk, but the goal was called off as Dorsett had been flagged for goaltender interference.
On the ensuing Oiler power play, Edmonton took a 1-0 lead as Magnus Paajarvi slid a deceptive cross-ice pass to Gagner, who deposited the puck into a wide open net with Columbus goalie Steve Mason unable to get back across.
Edmonton went up by two goals with three minutes to play in the opening period as a Hall shot snuck through Mason’s pads and across the goal-line.
Despite being outshot 7-0 to start the game, Edmonton bounced back to lead 13-11 in the category after 20 minutes.
The Oilers kept it up right off the start of the second as Eberle fought off Grant Clitsome and sent a backhand shot up high past Mason just 14 seconds in. The goal prompted Columbus to yank Mason in favour of Mathieu Garon.
It didn’t take long for the move to provide a spark. The Blue Jackets pulled back to within two just over a minute later as Calvert swatted a bouncing puck past Dubnyk.
The Blue Jackets made a game out of it, scoring with just four and a half minutes to play in the third as Umberger fed Upshall for his 18th of the season to make it 3-2, but the Oilers survived the hectic final minutes. Cogliano added an empty-net goal to seal the win.
The Blue Jackets play the fourth of a five-game road swing in Calgary on Friday. The Oilers begin a five-game road trip of their own in Colorado on Saturday.
NOTES: It was the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season with the home team winning every match … The Oilers were once again without the services of Ales Hemsky. The oft-injured forward is likely out for three weeks with a shoulder injury suffered Tuesday … Martin Gerber, who is 3-0 in net for the Oilers this year, served as the backup with Nikolai Khabibulin still out with an eye injury… Columbus captain Rick Nash has seven game-winning goals this season, two back of league leader Alexander Ovechkin … Nash is one goal shy of reaching 30 for the sixth time in seven seasons… Oiler captain Shawn Horcoff recorded his 400th NHL point.