Many have questioned whether or not the Edmonton Oilers were good enough to make the playoffs. There have been doubts about the defense, goaltending and team toughness, and how all of the young players on this team would come together to find success. But no one ever questioned that this team has skill, and last night against the Vancouver Canucks, it was on full display.
Wayne Gretzky holds most of the Edmonton Oilers individual records (actually he owns most of the National Hockey Leagues individual records) and the odds of those records being broken are slim to none. But, some of the more obscure records are still up for the taking. Taylor Hall has etched his name in the record books, unseating the Great One in exciting fashion.
Granted, the Canucks were asleep at the wheel for most of the first period, but to have success in this league you need to take advantage of opportunities when you have them, and the Oilers made Vancouver pay. Just 16 seconds into the game, Taylor Hall sped down into the Canucks zone and wired a shot past goalie Cory Schneider to give Edmonton a 1-0 lead.
Ladislav Smid made it 2-0 a minute and a half later, chasing Schneider from the net. He allowed two goals on the only two shots he faced. Roberto Luongo came into the game, but didn’t fare much better, as Taylor Hall’s second goal of the game, on the Oilers third shot, made it 3-0. But Hall wasn’t done there. A few minutes later, Hall scored a powerplay goal to complete the hat trick, and it was a special one at that.
Hall scored the quickest hat trick (in 7:53) to open a game in Oilers history, beating out former Oiler Wayne Gretzky’s mark of 12:38. It was a memorable moment for the youngster.
“That was a pretty electric way to start the game. We played with a lot of confidence. Any time you can break one of ‘The Great One’s’ records is a huge honor.” – Taylor Hall (NHL.com)
Despite not allowing anymore goals for the rest of the game, the Canucks simply couldn’t fight back. Devan Dubnyk had a stellar game, stopping 23 shots for his sixth career shutout. Vancouver didn’t look ready to start this game, and certainly didn’t expect the Oilers to come out like that. The Canucks had a six game winning streak snapped.
With the victory, the Oilers now have 35 points, tying them with the Dallas Stars. (The Stars are ahead in the standings because of fewer games played.) The St. Louis Blues currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot with 36 points. The Oilers are pretty excited to be one point out of a playoff spot, but they know that there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Battling for a playoff spot this late in the season is welcomed in Edmonton, and the experience of playing meaningful games down the stretch is exactly what this young team needs. Whether they make it or not remains to be seen, but it’s great that they’re making things interesting. It’s more than many expected to see before this season began.