It hasn’t been a great season in Edmonton, but ever since GM Steve Tambellini had a closed door chat with his players, things have been looking up. The Oilers have now won three straight since hearing from their General Manager, the latest coming this afternoon against Atlanta. The game didn’t start off well, as Atlanta jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Magnus Paajarvi cut the lead to one. The Oilers then found themselves down 3-1 early in the third period vs. the Thrashers, that is, until Taylor Hall decided to take the game over.
Just a few seconds after Evander Kane’s 17th of the season gave the Thrashers a 3-1 lead, Chris Thorburn took a tripping penalty, giving the Oilers a chance to get back within one. And they took advantage. Taylor Hall notched his 18th of the season from Ales Hemsky and Kurtis Foster. Less then a minute late, Hall scored again from Hemsky and Tom Gilbert. The rookie would complete his first career NHL hat trick with another powerplay goal from Sam Gagner and Ladislav Smid to give him 20 on the season. It was two milestones in one for the youngster, as his 20 goal plateau was marked with hats raining down in his honor. It was also the game winner, as the Oilers went on to win 5-3 after Hemsky scored into an empty net. The natural hat trick was the first of Taylor Hall’s professional career.
The success of the Oilers young stars was a breath of fresh air considering the growing concern over the Oilers getting a new arena to play in. The Katz ownership group is in talks with the city to build a new downtown stadium, as the current home of the team, Rexall Place, is old and in need of upgrades. Following the game, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expressed his support towards the building project.
“This building is obviously outdated, and for this city to continue to attract concerts, family shows conventions, having a new state of the art arena is important,” argued the NHL commissioner. “Equally as important is this team – the Edmonton Oilers has to have a new arena. There is not question about it – they are not going to stay in this building.”
The lease on Rexall Place expires in 2014 and obviously the hope is that a new building will be constructed before then. It would be a shame of the trouble with a new building overshadows what’s going on inside, and that is the evolution of this Oilers team, and Taylor Hall’s first hat trick is a real indication that it’s happening.