EDMONTON, AB -
Taylor Hall got the hat trick, David Perron increased his team-leading goal count and Mark Arcobello continued his surprising rookie season as the Edmonton Oilers earned their sixth win in their last nine games, a dominating 8-2 decision over the Colorado Avalanche.
"I haven't been in this league long, but I've been in it long enough to know that anything can happen on any night against any team," said Hall. "You've got to be ready for that opportunity. Obviously, we're not in the best spot in the standings, but anything can happen. You just have to come out and play your game. Some nights you're going to get eight and some nights, you're going to get zero. Tonight was a great night."
At 3:44 of the opening period, Hall scored his eighth goal of the season, this one on a breakaway as he went five-hole on Semyon Varlamov. The goal was assisted by Philip Larsen. The defenceman earned the assist in his first game back from injury, since November 16. Larsen missed seven games in that span, nursing a back injury.
The Oilers killed off a lengthy Colorado 5-on-3 power play attempt, shortly following their goal, to keep control of the momentum.
On a 5-on-3 power play of their own, Hall crushed a one-timer past Varlamov to give the Oilers a 2-0 lead. The goal, at 17:42 of the first, was assisted by Justin Schultz and Jordan Eberle.
Just 15 seconds later, the Oilers capitalized on the remainder of their power play. Ryan Smyth set up a streaking Ales Hemsky perfectly out in front of the Colorado net and the Oilers forward went right to left across the face of Varlamov, and slipped the puck in stick-side of the goalie.
Arcobello earned the secondary assist on the goal, and the Oilers would take a 3-0 lead into the dressing room after the first 20 minutes of play. With that goal, Arcobello overtook Colorado's Nathan McKinnon for tops in NHL rookie assists with 12 on the season.
"You don't have to chase the game, you've got the lead" said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "Once you get a couple, or three goal lead, then the team comes back a little bit, you still have the lead. It's so important in the game."
At 4:20 of the second period, the Avalanche drew within two courtesy of a Nick Holden shot, which was deflected in backdoor on goaltender Devan Dubnyk. The puck pin balled off of two Oilers players and in off of Nail Yakupov's stick. Matt Duchene earned the assist.
The Avalanche drew within one as Gabriel Landeskog unleashed a big shot from the slot, which Dubnyk stopped, however PA Parenteau was there to clean up the rebound. Erik Johnson also earned an assist on the goal, at 9:28 of the second.
The Oilers, who have dominated 4-on-4 hockey this season, retook the two-goal lead at 12:06 courtesy of a 4-on-4 tally. Perron and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the Oilers on a 2-on-1 rush down the ice. Perron took the option to shoot versus passing and it paid off. The Oilers winger scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season.
"The tendency is to tighten up and get a little nervous but I think we did a good job of responding," Arcobello said about the team's response to the 3-2 score. "Perron did a good job of getting that goal and shift the momentum back to us."
By game's end, the Oilers would have scored eight 4-on-4 goals this season, which leads the NHL. Also with that goal, Perron scored his eighth goal in his last nine games.
"I think our creativity is the biggest thing 4-on-4," said Eakins. "We've got some guys that are creative, they can see the ice, they know how to find ice. We've certainly had some success there, this year."
At 8:55 of the third period, Arcobello would put the Oilers on top 5-2. Left all alone in front of Varlamov, Arcobello buried the puck. Hemsky and Ryan Jones earned the assists, as the Oilers regained their three-goal lead.
The Oilers continued to roll late in the game, Smyth and Eberle came into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 rush and Eberle made good on Smyth's pass as Edmonton took a 6-2 lead with under five minutes remaining. Perron earned an assist on the goal.
"I'm not disappointed at all," said Colorado Head Coach Patrick Roy. "I think they played well. They scored power play goals, they scored on the rush. We knew before the game that it's a team that it would be very dangerous if we exchanged chances with them. If they go on the rush, it's their game. We just played into their game tonight, that's all and we need to learn from it."
Sam Gagner scored the Oilers seventh goal of the night, courtesy of a beautiful behind-the-back pass from Hall at 18:30 of the final period.
Hall earned his fourth career hat trick with just 10.8 seconds remaining, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Corey Potter earned the assists, and the Oilers would close it out from there.
"It's always a fun night when you get a hat trick, but I think for us to win in the fashion that we did, gives us some confidence," said Hall. "This home stand could prove to be big with us."