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GAME CHANGER: Big Rig rolls through Beantown

Patrick Maroon's first career hat trick in Boston is our latest Game Changer

by Paul Gazzola /

The Big Rig was not going to pump the brakes in Beantown.

Patrick Maroon had never registered a National Hockey League hat trick before the Oilers visit with the Boston Bruins in January. The winger had never scored more than 12 goals in a season. As a team, the Oilers hadn't recorded a regulation win in Boston since November 1996, when Mariusz Czerkawski's three-goal effort helped Edmonton pump Boston 6-0.

But all that would change in one game, due in large part to Edmonton's rugged left winger.

Video: EDM@BOS: Maroon, McDavid combine for gorgeous goal

Maroon's dominance began just over a minute into the game when Leon Draisaitl fed Connor McDavid on his way to the offensive zone. The Oilers captain shimmied towards the Bruins' net, eluding rearguard Zdeno Chara in the process. Just before reaching the goal-line from the right side, McDavid feathered a backhand pass to the left side of the crease. The puck was placed perfectly on Maroon's blade, and the forward was able to deposit an easy tap-in goal to put the Oil up 1-0.

But before ending the first, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder threw down against Chara, seemingly picking up more momentum ahead of the middle frame, when his next goal would be scored.

As Maroon was establishing a net-front presence, defenceman Eric Gryba threw the puck towards the Bruins' net. His shot was blocked by defenceman Adam McQuaid but Maroon stuck with the puck and out-battled his man, eventually spinning a shot that beat Tuukka Rask five-hole.

Video: EDM@BOS: Maroon ties the game with scrappy goal

Five penalty minutes, two goals and a fight. And the hulking winger was still not done.

Heading into the third period, the game was squared up at 2-2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins swiftly made it 3-2 when he scored just 14 seconds into the final frame, then Maroon would cap it with his third of the game.

After some tenacious fore-checking deep in Boston's zone by the Oilers top line, a loose puck squirted out to Maroon. The winger - who was in-tight on goal and in-between two defenders - had enough room to maneuver some deft stickhandling. The Oilers forward patiently out-waited Rask, then as he sprawled forward to stymie the winger, Maroon juked once more to tuck the puck past the netminder. 

Maroon's reaction was instant: arms up, smile and celly. The forward had a reason to be happy, scoring what would be his third of the night and eventual game winner as the Oilers closed the game out 4-3.

Video: EDM@BOS: Maroon nets slick goal for hat trick in 3rd

"This is cool… this is pretty special for me," said Maroon, who set a new career-high at the time with his 14th goal. "I would have never, in a thousand years, imagined me getting a hat-trick in the NHL."

Maroon remained humble. He attributed some of his success to his linemates, as McDavid finished the night with two assists while Draisaitl had one of his own.

"Hats off to my linemates," he said. "They're all-around good players, and without those guys keeping pucks alive and making the good plays, those goals don't go in."

Cam Talbot made 33 saves and the Oilers secured a regulation victory in Boston for the first time since 1996 - improving to a 20-13-7 record.

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