PENTICTON, B.C. – Taylor Hall earned his first goal as an Oiler, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Edmonton from falling 4-3 to the San Jose Sharks at the Young Stars Tournament on Wednesday.
Michael Sgarbossa scored a hat trick for the Sharks and Tommy Wingels added another goal in the last game of the five-team rookie tournament for both clubs (2-1).
Hall, 18, and Magnus Paajarvi each scored power-play goals, while James Livingston scored even-strength for Edmonton. Hall also had an assist in the game.
Hall, the first overall pick in this year’s NHL draft by the Oilers, and fellow first-rounders Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle played on a line together for the first time in the tournament. The three had sat out Edmonton’s 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames the previous night.
Hall centred Eberle on the right ring and Paajarvi on the left, with the trio showing flashes of chemistry during their copious amounts of power-play time in a penalty-filled game.
Their lack of experience playing as a unit was evident in the first two periods, but they pressed furiously for an equalizer in the third period.
“(The Sharks) had some good defence there, some older guys who could kind of contain us pretty well,” said Hall. “The only problem with having three great players on a line is everyone wants the puck. It’s weird to say, but it’s true.
“Everyone wants to be a difference-maker. You kind of have to take a little bit less of a role some shifts and drive the net and screen the goalie and stuff like that. As the game wore on, I thought we got a lot more comfortable with each other and by the end of the game we were clicking pretty well.”
Hall collected his first goal as an Oiler when his shot from the top of the circle early in the third period pulled the Oilers within one goal. Paajarvi scored on a deflection on assists from Eberle and Hall late in the first period.
Hall, from Kingston, Ont., didn’t keep the puck from his first goal, but tossed it over the glass to outstretched hands in the stands after the game.
“Not a huge deal,” he said.
Paajarvi, Edmonton’s 10th overall pick last year, had three goals in two games in the tournament. Hall finished with a goal and two assists. Eberle, the 22nd choice two years ago, had a goal and an assist.
Paajarvi, 19, said he was “honoured” to play with Hall and 20-year-old Eberle.
“We created a lot of chances, but we didn’t execute that well I think,” the Swede said. “We could have executed a lot better.”
J.P. Anderson earned the win in the Sharks’ net with 20 saves, while Oiler counterpart Bryan Pitton stopped 26 shots.
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini wouldn’t predict whether Paajarvi, Eberle and Hall would remain linemates through main camp which starts Friday.
“They had a tough time getting it together the first half, but then in the third they really started clicking,” he said. “They’ll be fun to watch.”
In an earlier game Wednesday, the Anaheim Ducks won their first game of tournament with a 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Cam Fowler, Rob Borden and Maxime Macenauer scored for the Ducks (1-2), with Kyle Palmieri adding an empty-net goal. Brian Lebler had two assists. Evan Oberg and Pierre-Olivier Morin replied for Vancouver (2-1).
Ducks goaltender Timo Pielmeier made 16 saves for the win, while Vancouver’s Michael Hauser stopped 29 shots in the loss.
The tournament concludes Thursday with the Canucks—the only team playing four games in the tournament—taking on the Flames (1-1).