EDMONTON, AB -
All three of Edmonton's former first overall picks scored in the first period and despite a late rally by Carolina, Jordan Eberle scored the overtime game-winner to give the Oilers the 5-4 victory over the Hurricanes.
"I'd love to have a win every night," said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "I don't care how we get them, that was two points. Would we like to end that game, 4-1? Absolutely, but the important thing is there's two points in the bank."
Taylor Hall continued his offensive hot streak by putting the Oilers up 1-0 at 1:33 of the opening period. Sam Gagner found Hall on a 2-on-1 rush and the Edmonton forward buried his 12th goal of the season, and his seventh point in the last four games. Nail Yakupov earned the second assist.
Carolina would tie things up with 13:41 remaining in the first period, 14 seconds into their first power play of the night. Tuomo Ruutu tipped a shot, by Jeff Skinner, on Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The goalie made the save but an Edmonton defenceman swiped the rebound right to Ruutu and the Hurricane winger put it in to tie the game, 1-1.
The Oilers took back the lead at 11:04 of the first. Hall threw the puck out to Yakupov from the boards and the 20-year-old Russian winger shot it past Cam Ward. The goal was his first since November 19, against Columbus. Coming into the night, he had not registered a point in seven-straight games.
After several big scoring opportunities including a Yakupov shot that dinged in-and-out off the post and some pretty moves by Ales Hemsky that eventually missed the net, the Oilers found their 3-1 lead.
Eberle set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the Oilers third goal of the night, at 18:14. The centre took Eberle's pass and one-timed it, top-shelf over Ward.
The first and only other time that former first overall picks, Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Yakupov all scored in the same game was on April 3, 2013 in an 8-2 win over the Calgary Flames.
"Obviously those guys with scoring, we're going to always look to them to put up points and put up goals and they did that," said Eakins. "They're all growing as we go along, they're all going to play large roles in our organization's success over the next several years. The challenge for them is, not only to start games like that but to finish them like that and play the next game like that and the next game. That's where you see the real good veterans and the real elite players, they play like that every game, every night. That's the challenge of our young men."
Jesse Joensuu put the Oilers on top 4-1 at 1:40 of the second period. Mark Arcobello battled for the puck behind the Carolina net and backhanded a centring pass out to Joensuu at the top of the crease. It was Joensuu's second goal of the season and first point since opening night against Winnipeg on October 1.
"I think it just comes naturally, the more ice time that you get," said Joensuu. "When you play with guys like Mark and Ales (Hemsky) that are really good with the puck, it kind of makes sense for me to not have the puck. I try to be in (the opponent's) face and let them make the plays."
Anton Belov earned the second assist.
Jordan Staal took advantage of a high-traffic area that just so happened to be the crease in front of Dubnyk and put the puck in from the slot to draw his team within two, at 9:37 of the middle frame. Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekera were awarded the assists.
Eric Staal made it 4-3 with a shorthanded goal at 7:47 of the third period. Staal faked the slap shot and got Dubnyk to bite, before sinking the puck in the back of the net.
Carolina's Riley Nash was ejected from the game with 10:41 remaining for a hit on Corey Potter. Nash drew a five-minute major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct.
The Oilers ensuing long power play failed to convert, keeping it a one-score game.
"We definitely lost some momentum there," said Nugent-Hopkins. "They definitely gained some. We can't let that happen when we got a five-minute power play. We've got to get at least one goal or at least some momentum there..."
Carolina Head Coach Kirk Muller was pleased with his special teams stepping up in that big moment.
"The PK did a great job," said Muller. "That was a huge kill for us. It continued our momentum and once we did that, I think the guys felt like hey, it's one of those games and let's just hang in there and let's see if we can grab some points here tonight."
That failure to put the game away, on that man advantage, cost the Oilers as the Hurricanes tied the game at 4-4 courtesy of Skinner going bar down on Dubnyk at 14:46. It was the former Calder Trophy winner's 10th goal of the season.
The game would be decided in overtime.
A Justin Faulk boarding to Nugent-Hopkins would give the Oilers a 4-on-3 power play in the extra time. After some cycling of the puck, Eberle scored the game winner after a cross-crease feed by Nugent-Hopkins.
"It wasn't the prettiest win but we did a good job in overtime to battle hard on that power play and get the goal," said Nugent-Hopkins who scored his 100th career point tonight. "Not our best third period, but nonetheless we came out with two points so that's all that matters."
With the win, the Oilers now have a 7-3-1 record in their last 11 games.
"You obviously want to play better and win a different way, but at the sometime they are in the Eastern Conference," said Joensuu. "It doesn't really matter how many points they get if we win."