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Oilers trounce Flames for fifth straight win

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- The Edmonton Oilers showed their provincial rival what a well-done rebuild can reap.

Taylor Hall, the first player taken in the 2010 NHL Draft, had a goal and four assists while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 pick in 2011, scored once and set up three more goals as the Oilers trounced the Calgary Flames 8-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday.

"I think we're definitely through [rebuilding]," Hall said. "It's pretty early to say but we feel really good about making the playoffs. We really like our group in here and this is a big game for us. We don't really think about what other teams are doing. We know how tough a rebuild is and we know what they're going through, but we know that they're also professionals and they're going to play hard and they're going to play with pride."

The line of Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and fellow first-round pick Jordan Eberle combined for 11 points against the Flames to help lift Edmonton (16-13-7) to its fifth straight win and into the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference.

"Obviously it's been a few years of rebuilding and we want to take the next step," Nugent-Hopkins said. "We're ready to do that and all of us here are excited about this opportunity that we have. We're ready to make a playoff push."

The Oilers, who scored eight unanswered goals after spotting the Flames a 2-0 lead, improved to 39 points, one more than St. Louis -- though the Blues have two games in hand. The eight goals were the most scored by the Oilers in Calgary since a 10-1 win on Nov. 26, 1996.

Calgary (13-18-4) was selling on Wednesday's trade deadline, dealing Blake Comeau after parting with Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester in the past week as they start what general manager Jay Feaster called a retooling.

In a season gone awry, being blown out at home by their biggest rival might be the low point.

"I don't think we could get much worse than that. That's rock bottom, I think," said forward Matt Stajan, who scored both Calgary goals. "We can't feel sorry for ourselves, though. That's our effort. That's what we deserved. We didn't deserve anything better than that. We left our goalie out to dry. It's on ourselves to turn it around and come to the rink and expect a lot more of each other.

"It doesn't matter where we sit in the standings. You've got to come to the rink. We're NHL hockey players. You've got to play with a pride and give it your all every single shift. If we do that, we'll compete every night. Today we didn't do that."

Edmonton's most recent No. 1 pick broke a 2-2 tie early in the middle period.

Nail Yakupov, the first player taken in the 2012 NHL Draft, put the Oilers ahead to stay by one-timing Sam Gagner's pass from the hash marks behind Flames starter Joey MacDonald for a power-play goal at 3:34 to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead.

With Cory Sarich in the box for cross-checking, Hall put Edmonton up by two. Nugent-Hopkins' centering feed hit the skate of Mark Giordano and bounced onto the stick of Hall, who buried the puck behind MacDonald at 7:39.

Nugent-Hopkins then completed the barrage by players taken No. 1 in the draft, slapping a Hall rebound into the back of the net for Edmonton's third power-play goal of the period at 9:51 to extend their lead to three.

"We didn't have a power play in our last game and we've had a few games like that so we knew how important every chance on the power play is," Hall said. "We wanted to get pucks to the net and make sure we had bodies there. Pucks ended up on guys sticks and we put them in. It was nice to see."

Eberle, who sometimes gets overshadowed by the Oilers' trio of top picks, added to the rout with a pair of goals in the third period.

Nugent-Hopkins' wrist shot from the point was blocked by Hall in the slot, but the puck squirted onto the stick of Eberle, who slid it by a down-and-out MacDonald to make it 6-2 at 9:56. It became 7-2 after a nifty give-and-go on a 2-on-2 between Hall and Eberle left the 22nd player taken in the 2008 NHL Draft with another tap-in at 17:06.

The final goal went to Yakupov, who scored his second of the game after taking a Ryan Smyth feed off the draw and burying it behind MacDonald with 1:03 remaining in the game.

"Our power play was great and then just the third period icing it off," Eberle said. "I thought we played a good, sound game and at the same time we have to rebound and we have a big game tomorrow."

It's hard to believe looking at the final score, but the Flames led by two goals less than six minutes into the game, as Stajan scored on Calgary's first two shots.

Dennis Wideman worked the puck down low and centered to Curtis Glencross in the slot, but the puck was redirected onto the stick of Stajan, who beat Oilers' goaltender Devan Dubnyk over the glove just 2:35 into the game.

On his next shift, Stajan fed Glencross, who slid a backhand behind Dubnyk but off the post. Stajan fired the carom into a virtually empty net to give the Flames a 2-0 lead at 5:18.

Between the two goals, Steve Begin and Mike Brown dropped the gloves in the Battle of Alberta's first bout in 12 games dating back to Oct. 26, 2010.

Unlike the Flames in their 4-2 loss at Edmonton on Monday -- a game that saw the Oilers score three quick goals and coast to victory, the visitors quickly chipped away at the lead.

After Lennart Petrell sent a shot over the top of the net, Gagner deflected a Jeff Petry shot from the point into the net to cut the lead to one by the midway mark of the period. Ryan Whitney tied it at 12:59, finishing a nifty passing play with Hall and Nugent-Hopkins.

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