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Hall's OT goal lifts Oilers to 2-1 victory

by Robin Brownlee /
EDMONTON -- Chalk up another first for Taylor Hall: his first overtime goal.

The No. 1 draft pick last June scored 23 seconds into OT on Saturday night to give Edmonton a 2-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues, extending the Oilers' winning streak to four games.

Hall took a breakaway pass by Ryan Whitney, went in alone and whipped a wrister past Jaroslav Halak. The goal came with Blues forward Andy McDonald lying on the ice after a collision.

"It's obviously fun to score an overtime winner. It's my first," Hall said.

It was Hall's ninth of the season, third in two games and second game-winner of the season. He scored in the final minute of regulation time on Nov. 25 to give the Oilers a 3-2 victory against Colorado, starting a spurt that has seen them win six of nine.

After sweeping a three-game road trip through Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, the victory over the Blues gave Edmonton its longest winning streak since the Oilers won five in a row last Dec. 3-11, capping that stretch with a 5-3 win over the Blues. However, they went on to lose 20 of their next 21 and wound up last in the overall standings.

Hall decided it with his ninth goal of the season, taking a pass from Ryan Whitney, breaking in alone and snapping a shot behind Jaroslav Halak as the Oilers improved to 4-6-1 at home.

"We want to set a good standard for our home play," Hall said. "This is where we play a lot. This is where we feel at home. It's good to get a win here."

Nikolai Khabibulin, who shut out the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Thursday, was 6:27 away from back-to-back shutouts before Eric Brewer scored at 13:33 of the third period to the game.

Coach Tom Renney said Khabibulin made the difference.

"We were a little flat, to say the least," Renney said. "Our goaltender was outstanding. He gave us a reason to believe we could find a way to win the game.

"We tried to just muscle through it. The last 20 minutes, we were better. There's all kinds of people on this team you'd love to see have a breakaway in overtime. I have to tell you, he (Hall) leads the parade, quite honestly."

While the Oilers managed just seven shots in the opening 20 minutes, they had three prime chances in the first five minutes. Halak turned away Gilbert Brule from the high slot. He did likewise to Shawn Horcoff, from almost the same spot, then saw Jordan Eberle rattle a shot off the post cutting in from the right wing.

The Blues bettered Edmonton's quick start to begin the second period as they pumped six shots at Khabibulin in the first two minutes alone. That total didn't include a high slap shot Brad Boyes rang off the post from the left wing. In all, Khabibulin faced 15 shots in the period, included a spectacular right pad save on McDonald's redirection in the goalmouth at 13:15 to keep the game scoreless.

Ryan Jones finally broke the stalemate 2:32 into the third period as he tipped a goalmouth pass from rookie Magnus Paajarvi behind Halak on a 2-on-1 break for his sixth goal of the season to put the Oilers up 1-0. But Brewer, a former Oiler, got his team a point when he snapped a wrist shot from the top of the right circle  behind a screened Khabibulin.

"That's been happening a little bit for us," Brewer said of a good effort in his team's fifth consecutive loss. "At least we got a point out of it. You deal with it. That's the way it is. It's a grind every night."

While the Blues are struggling after a 9-1-2 start, the Oilers, who have been better on the road than at home  -- they are 4-6-1 at Rexall Place and 6-6-3 on the road -- are starting to roll.

"We did a good job battling tonight, but we've got to be better than that," said Whitney, who now has 21 assists.

"I think there were stretches where we didn't have our legs. We had a really good third period. The first half of the game isn't what we need, but if you can win on those nights, it helps."
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