After Saturday night, the Edmonton Oilers are heading back out onto the road in a much better frame of mind.
The Oilers got three goals from Taylor Hall, the top pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, and five assists from 2011 No. 1 pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, as they flattened the Chicago Blackhawks 9-2 to put a decisive end to their four-game losing streak.
"It's nice to break that streak," Eberle said after the Oilers beat the Hawks at Rexall Place for the first time in seven tries. Chicago had outscored Edmonton 30-8 in that span.
Hall, who had gone nine games without a goal, scored once in each period for his second NHL hat trick. Nugent-Hopkins assisted on all three, as well as two others. Jordan Eberle and Tom Gilbert each had a goal and three assists for a four-point night. It was the first time since Jan. 30, 1991, that four Oilers had four points in the same game.
Nugent-Hopkins became the first 18-year-old in NHL history with five assists in a game and just the fourth ever to get five points in a single outing joining Toronto's Jack Hamilton (Dec. 4, 1943), Winnipeg's Dale Hawerchuk (March 13, 1982) and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk (Jan. 19, 2002).
"It was fun to see the guys enjoying themselves," coach Tom Renney said. "This was a big game for us under the circumstances.
"Chicago is a good hockey club. I'm not sure you are going to see something like this happen to them again this season."
The Blackhawks came into the game on top of the overall standings, but left for a three-day break in Las Vegas with their second loss in as many nights -- they were whipped 5-2 in Calgary on Friday. Power-play goals by Patrick Sharp in the first period and Dave Bolland in the second weren't nearly enough.
"We're all (angry)," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "We are all embarrassed. At the same time, we are going to stick together and remain a team and not point the finger at one guy or another. We are going to have to find a way to move on. We know our effort has to be way better. The way we played these last two nights was completely unacceptable."
One player who took a lot of the blame was starting goaltender Ray Emery, who gave up seven of the nine goals. "It's personally embarrassing," he said. "I want to play better than that. We have to remember how bad this feels because we don't want it to happen again."
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 34 shots and got plenty of help from his teammates at both ends of the ice.
"The big thing for us was coming back to a defensive commitment for the game," coach Tom Renney said. "The guys were all in tonight."
The Oilers, whose slump included a 6-3 loss at Chicago this past Sunday, needed less than eight minutes to send Emery to the bench. Ryan Jones broke a 1-1 tie when Emery misplayed his bad-angled shot at 5:47, and Ryan Smyth was all alone at the right post to tap home Eberle's perfect backdoor feed at 7:32.
"I just knew where he was going to be," Eberle said.
It was the Oilers' third goal on nine shots, and Chicago coach Joel Quenneville pulled the plug on Emery, bringing in starter Corey Crawford for the rest of the period. But Hall scored his first of the night on a power play at 12:39, snapping home the carom of Nugent-Hopkins' shot off the end boards, and Nugent-Hopkins went coast-to-coast before dishing to Eberle for a one-timer at 15:41.
"He makes it looks so easy, but it's hard," captain Shawn Horcoff said of Nugent-Hopkins' passing skills.
Nugent-Hopkins must also like to work in front of a big audience. He has 11 of his 19 points in the Oilers' four Saturday night appearances on Hockey Night in Canada.
Gilbert fired home Nugent-Hopkins' passout for a 5-on-3 power-play goal at 5:32 of the second, and Hall gave the Oilers three extra-man goals when he scored at 12:09.
Bolland and Horcoff exchanged power-play goals later in the second before Hall completed his hat trick by taking a pass from Nugent-Hopkins and rifling a perfectly placed wrister through a screen that caught the top corner past Emery's glove 9:21 into the third.
"It definitely gives us confidence," Hall said. "It's great we won all three periods. It's easy to let off the gas pedal, but we didn't."
The only time Renney had to worry was when he watched Hall go flying headfirst into the post while driving for the net late in the game.
"If I held my breath every time Hall goes flying into the net, I'd have brain problems," he said.
Material from national and team media were used in this report
|Ales Hemsky (1) ASST: Jeff Petry (2)|
1 - 0 EDM
|PPG - Patrick Sharp (7) ASST: Marian Hossa (14), Patrick Kane (15)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Ryan Jones (5) ASST: Shawn Horcoff (7), Tom Gilbert (5)|
2 - 1 EDM
|Ryan Smyth (11) ASST: Jordan Eberle (10), Jeff Petry (3)|
3 - 1 EDM
|PPG - Taylor Hall (4) ASST: Shawn Horcoff (8), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (8)|
4 - 1 EDM
|Jordan Eberle (5) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (9), Jeff Petry (4)|
5 - 1 EDM
|PPG - Tom Gilbert (3) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (10), Jordan Eberle (11)|
6 - 1 EDM
|PPG - Taylor Hall (5) ASST: Tom Gilbert (6), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11)|
7 - 1 EDM
|PPG - Dave Bolland (6) ASST: Nick Leddy (13), Steve Montador (5)|
7 - 2 EDM
|PPG - Shawn Horcoff (4) ASST: Jordan Eberle (12), Tom Gilbert (7)|
8 - 2 EDM
|Taylor Hall (6) ASST: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (12)|
9 - 2 EDM
|Ryan Smyth Hooking against Duncan Keith|
|Duncan Keith Boarding against Taylor Hall|
|Ryan Jones Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Shawn Horcoff Holding against Jonathan Toews|
|Patrick Kane Hi stick - double minor against Jeff Petry|
|Dave Bolland Holding against Ales Hemsky|
|Bryan Bickell Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Ben Eager Hooking against Patrick Kane|
|Patrick Kane Unsportsmanlike conduct|
|Theo Peckham Hi-sticking against Marian Hossa|
|Jamal Mayers Tripping against Ben Eager|
|Daniel Carcillo Fighting (maj) against Theo Peckham|
|Theo Peckham Fighting (maj) against Daniel Carcillo|
|Theo Peckham Instigator against Daniel Carcillo|
|Theo Peckham Misconduct (10 min)|