Taylor Hall gave the Oilers a 4-3 lead in an improbable, wild Edmonton Oilers third period comeback which eventually lead to a thrilling 5-4 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils.
"There's so many things going on in a hockey game that ultimately you just want to focus on what you're doing on the ice as a team and we were fine with what we were doing," said Hall. "We just wanted to get a couple of more pucks to the net and that's what we did in the third period."
The ageless wonder, 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr, opened up the scoring 2:59 into the game. Jagr carried the puck into the zone and patiently worked his way towards the slot waiting for space to open up on Oilers goaltender Jason LaBarbera. The Devils veteran fired a snap shot finding twine with career goal number 682.
Damien Brunner scored next for the visitors from New Jersey on the power play at 8:01of the first period. Brunner took the puck from the circle to the right of LaBarbera and worked is way inside toward the slot, faking a shot before shooting and scoring giving the Devils the 2-0 lead.
The Oilers did not register a shot on net until 11:48 of the opening frame but finished strong closing the period out with the 8-7 lead in that category.
The tides appeared to be turning in the Oilers favour as the home team began to piece together some serious offensive opportunities towards the end of the first and into the beginning of the second period. This run included a fancy solo, walk-in toe-drag attempt by Hemsky. The 600-game veteran's shot was gloved down by a New Jersey legend, Brodeur who showed his own skill on the play. Despite the Oilers energy and efforts, the Devils took a 3-0 lead at 4:34 of the middle frame.
Michael Ryder roofed a wrist shot over the glove-side shoulder of LaBarbera to increase the Devils score advantage.
Then came the rally.
Oilers top centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins saw his first action of the season tonight, returning to the ice after off-season shoulder surgery. He would break the shutout at 5:43 of the third period on the power play. A large pile up of players in front of Brodeur turned to chaos as the puck was jostled around and finally freed up to Nugent-Hopkins back door at the post who finished it.
"We were pushing hard," said Nugent-Hopkins. "It was a great shot on net by (Justin Schultz) and (David Perron) and all of the guys in front were battling hard for it. It just squeaked out to me and I put it in. It was the goals after that which really set us up."
"We just had to get one by Brodeur on the power play and we did that on a huge goal by (Nugent-Hopkins) and we got going after," said forward David Perron.
Perron earned his 200th career NHL point on the play with his assist while Boyd Gordon added the second helper. The goal made the score 3-1 injecting life into the Oilers bench.
Team Captain Andrew Ference continued the rally at 9:28 with a monster one-timer from inside the point. It was his first goal as an Oiler and he was assisted by Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle as the Oilers drew within one. If the captain's tally didn't raise the fans out of their seats, the next one did.
A key face-off deep in the New Jersey zone was won by Oilers centre Mark Arcobello who freed the puck up to Perron who quickly slung the puck by Brodeur to tie the game.
With 6:30 to go in regulation, Hall scooped up a pass from the boards by Hemsky and all alone, out in front made a move on Brodeur and sunk the unbelievable fourth goal as the Oilers took their first lead of the game after being down 3-0. The Hall goal which followed was the fourth goal for Edmonton in a timespan of under eight minutes.
Just when things seemed wrapped up and the comeback in the books, a bizarre shorthanded goal by Patrik Elias with 54 seconds remaining tied the game at four and sent the contest to extra minutes. Elias' shot was a very steep angle try from behind in deep and deflected off of some skates in front and in.
The overtime period went scoreless and the wild game when to a shootout.
In the shootout, Eberle proved to be a smooth operator as he roofed a pretty backhander. Perron followed that up for the Oilers with a back hand of his own. LaBarbera shut the door twice as the Oilers took the 5-4 victory.
When asked how his first win as a head coach felt, the Oilers bench boss Dallas Eakins was quick to correct the reporter by including his entire team in his response.
"Our first win feels good," said Coach Dallas Eakins, who emphasized the team as a whole. "I felt it was an interesting game. I wasn't terribly upset actually after two periods. I thought we were trying and we made mistakes, you're going to make mistakes in games, but I was starting to see more good than bad."