EDMONTON, AB - Taylor Hall scored on a penalty shot and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave his team the late lead as the Oilers skated to their much-needed first win of the season, 3-2 over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Great, it’s really good,” Oilers Captain Andrew Ference said. “You’re going to play tight games and lose some. Obviously, we’ve had a couple of those where we’re disappointed not to get the points but tonight we strung together our second game now playing really good defensive hockey, keeping the shots down, still generating chances on our side.”
At 10:52 of the first period, it looked like the Lightning scored the opening goal. However, Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens was interfered with by Brian Boyle. Brett Connolly’s goal was waved off and the game remained tied at 0-0.
With just under five minutes remaining in the first, Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins set of Jordan Eberle with a perfect pass on a rush. Eberle’s shot was stopped by the pad of Ben Bishop.
“We had some chances,” Hall said of his line’s play. “Nuge was really skating well, Ebs was making plays and it’s fun to play with those guys when we’re working as a unit like that. Not only our line, but it seemed like every line had a chance every five minutes or a good shift so it’s good to keep the momentum going when every line is going like that.”
Just 1:21 into the second period, the Lightning took the 1-0 lead. Boyle scored on a shot from the wall that deflected off a defenceman and trickled past Scrivens at the post. Brenden Morrow and Jason Garrison each recorded assists.
The Oilers evened the score at 4:36 of the second. Nail Yakupov tried to jam the puck in at the post but was denied by Bishop. Justin Schultz picked up the puck and the Oilers defenceman backhanded a shot past Bishop for his first goal of the season. Yakupov and Taylor Hall got the assists.
With 5:03 remaining in the middle frame, Hall got taken down on a breakaway by Matthew Carle and was awarded a penalty shot.
Hall motioned for the crowd to make some noise prior to the penalty shot.
“I don’t really know what happened there,” Hall said. “I haven’t been too good on breakaways or penalty shots or shootouts in my career. I’ve been alright, but I just wanted to do something to take my mind off the shot. I would have looked pretty silly if it didn’t go in, but luckily it did.”
Hall slow played is way in on Bishop before tucking the puck five-hole under the goalie. The goal was Hall’s fourth of the season and it sent the Rexall Place crowd into a frenzy.
“I was amazed by the crowd tonight,” Eakins said. “They were able to push us along on the bench. Before the penalty shot was great, after we were down they were great or when it was tied. It’s an amazing feeling when you have the noise behind you. You see this in a lot of buildings. That’s what home-ice advantage is to me. It’s not having the last change or putting your stick in last for a face-off, it’s your crowd. I like that Hallsy did that. It’s pretty good.”
The Oilers took a 2-1 lead into the third period.
Early in the final period following a turnover out in front of the net, Vladislav Namestnikov was robbed by the glove of Scrivens keeping the Oilers ahead by one.
Connolly got back his goal at 13:55 of the third when he fired home a shot from the slot. Connolly was assisted by Tyler Johnson.
“We got down, they tied it up there late and we had really good push back. That’s good to see,” Nugent-Hopkins said.
The Oilers took back the lead when Eberle set up Nugent-Hopkins for the game-winning goal with a nice pass and the centre settled the puck then fired it past the glove of Bishop at 16:35.
“It was a good, solid game and I really liked the response after they scored the tying goal,” Ference said. “It was a few seconds of guys being a little ticked off and then the next shift we went out there and had a good one. For Nuge to put us back ahead, it was a big break for our team and very uplifting.”
Scrivens made 22 saves in the win.
“That game wasn’t too different from our last five, except that when we needed goals they went in and when we needed saves Scrivey was there,” Hall said. “That’s what good teams do, they ride momentum and when they get chances eventually they’re going to go in. We’re proud of the win, we want to stay on an even keel and keep this thing going.”