The Edmonton Oilers went into their game vs. the Calgary Flames wanting nothing more than to douse the playoff hopes of their provincial rivals. In fact, Theo Peckham labeled it the biggest game of the year for the Oilers. It’s been a very disappointing year in Edmonton, as the young team was hoping this would be their breakthrough season. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), the Oilers are destined for another lottery pick, and another year out of the playoff picture. But the players certainly got up for this game, coming out strong against a team fighting desperately for their playoff lives. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle both scored in the first period to stake the Oilers to a 2-0 lead. Calgary added one in the second, but Nugent-Hopkins second of the night and 18th of the season in the third period sealed the deal. The win came at a cost however, as the Oilers lost all-star Taylor Hall to injury.
Hall collided with Calgary’s Corey Sarich early in the game and was forced to leave with what the team is calling a concussion. Head Coach Tom Renney didn’t feel that the hit warranted a suspension, as Hall fell down before being hit in the head. Hall’s short career has already been marred by injury, and the uncertainly of a concussion is the last thing the Oilers wanted to hear about their star. But despite the bittersweet victory, the bright spot was the play of rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who continues to pile up points in his first year in the league. He was the favorite for the Calder trophy before sustaining a shoulder injury, but is certainly still in the running to take home the prize.
The Flames, who currently sit in 11th place in the Western Conference, and one point back 8th, came out lifeless in the third, allowing the Oilers to take advantage. In a season that has lacked bright spots, this is a game that the team won’t soon forget.
“Anytime you get a chance to beat these guys, it’s awesome.” -Jordan Eberle. “It’s definitely a great feeling. Right away we had a good start and the fans were into it.” – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton Oilers)
The loss of Hall left a damper on the celebrations, and there’s no indication of the severity of his injury. The dazed look on his face after the hit was tough to watch, and yet another chapter in a string of bad luck injury wise for Hall. The Oilers are at home to the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday before heading off on a four game road trip that includes stops in Nashville, Tampa, Florida and Columbus.