The Atlanta Thrashers
ran into a major roadblock while trying to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Rookie sensation Taylor Hall
of the Edmonton Oilers
Hall scored a natural hat trick in the third period Saturday to rally his Oilers from a two-goal deficit for a 5-3 victory at Rexall Place.
Atlanta entered the day in 10th place in the Eastern Conference but just four points behind eighth-place Carolina. The Thrashers turned to backup goaltender Chris Mason for his first start since Jan. 15, but he looked rusty and the team's lack of discipline in front of him didn't help.
"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."
Hall scored three power-play goals in a span of less than 13 minutes for the Oilers, who have won 3 straight games and moved out of 30th place in the NHL pending Ottawa's game Saturday night in Toronto.
"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."
The first two came 39 seconds apart early in the period. Thirty seconds after Evander Kane had given the Thrashers a 3-1 advantage with a beautiful 4-on-4 goal where he weaved past three Oilers, Hall was able to tuck a shot under Mason from near the right post at 1:42 of the final period.
set up Hall in the slot for his second at 2:21 with a nice feed, and then the rookie collected his third of the day and 20th of the season at 14:35 with a second effort at the goal crease.
Hemsky completed a three-point game of his own and sealed the victory with a empty-net tally in the final seconds.
Atlanta defenseman Dustin Byfuglien had the lone goal of the opening period. An Oilers defenseman tried to get the puck out of the Edmonton zone but Byfuglien stopped it at the right point and goalie Devan Dubnyk
was unable to stop his knuckling slap shot at 4:37.
It was Atlanta's first shot of the game, and Byfuglien's 18th goal of the season. He only has 2 goals since Jan. 2, but Byfuglien continues to pace all NHL defensemen in that category, and he's 1 shy of matching his career-high set in 2007-08.
This was the first game in an Atlanta uniform for forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart, who came to the Thrashers in a trade from Boston for center Rich Peverley and defenseman Boris Valabik.
Wheeler collected his first point with the Thrashers with an assist on captain Andrew Ladd's goal 59 seconds into the second period, while Stuart fought Edmonton's J-F Jacques midway through the second.
"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," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "Taylor seized the opportunity to really sign this one."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.