The Edmonton Oilers didn’t look a 30th ranked team last night against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Edmonton’s group of young guns had a lot to do with it. The Oil’s second preseason game was another triumphant one, thanks mainly to the stellar play of prospect Magnus Paajarvi, whose three goals and one assist propelled the Oilers past a Lightning squad, that though missing most of it’s best players, still featured the teams number one goalie Dan Ellis. Not a lot of stock should be put into an exhibition game, but the young players sure looked great. The excitement was palpable in the building as they took to the ice for the first time, and they did not disappoint.
Despite Tampa opening the scoring early in the first period, Edmonton came right back, taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Magnus Paajarvi scored the Oilers first goal of the game, taking a pass from Shawn Belle and dancing through the neutral zone and right through the Tampa defense. He whiffed on his shot but it somehow found it’s way passed Lightning goalie Dan Ellis. He then assisted on Edmonton’s second goal on the poweplay, feeding a pass to Kurtis Foster, who fired it at the net and Andrew Cogliano deflected it in to put the Oilers up.
Paajarvi picked up right where he left off in the second period, rifling a shot past Ellis off a nice feed from Dustin Penner. Goalie Devan Dubnyk was replaced by Jeff Deslauriers midway through the second after a solid performance through the first 3o minutes of play. The Oilers took a 3-1 lead into the dressing room after two periods.
The third period would finally see Taylor Hall hit the score sheet, and it was a beauty. Hall looked noticeably nervous early on, committing a few turnovers, but he eventually settled in, and added a nifty goal of his own to put the game out of reach. Tampa goalie Dan Ellis went out to play the puck, but Hall took it out of mid-air, swooped around Ellis and slid the puck into the empty net to put the Oilers up 4-1. It was a great moment for Hall, who had a few chances earlier in the game but wasn’t able to capitalize. But despite the nice goal from Hall, this was Magnus Paajarvi’s night. Just a couple few minutes after Hall’s first, Paajavri scored a shorthanded goal to complete the hat-trick. He came down the wing and fired a shot that probably shouldn’t have beaten Ellis. Paajarvi finished the night with three goals and an assist. The Lightning scored late in the third on a powerplay by Carter Ashton, but that would be all they could muster, and the Oilers skated away with a 5-2 win.
A healthy Ales Hemsky looked good playing with Hall, as he tried numerous times to get the puck to the youngester. Magnus Paajarvi is thought to be more NHL ready than the other Oiler prospects because he has been playing with grown men for the past few years in Europe. He certainly showed last night that he is capable of playing with the big club, and his speed and offensive skills are exactly what the Oilers need.