It would be difficult to find a team much harder to figure out than the Edmonton Oilers.
Taylor Hall had his fourth career hat trick and an assist to help Edmonton rebound from a lopsided defeat with an 8-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
"It’s always a fun night when you get a hat trick, but for us to win in the fashion that we did gives us some confidence," Hall said. "This homestand could prove to be big for us."
Ales Hemsky, David Perron, Mark Arcobello, Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner also scored for the Oilers, who replaced a quarter of their lineup after a 6-2 loss to Phoenix on Tuesday.
The Oilers improved to 4-9-0 at home, and they’ve won six of nine overall.
"I haven’t been in this league long, but I’ve been in it enough to know that anything can happen on any night against any team," Hall said. "You have to be ready for the opportunity. You just have to come out and play your game. Sometimes you’re going to get eight and some nights you’re going to get zero. And tonight was a great night."
Nick Holden and P.A. Parenteau scored for the Avalanche, who had won two in a row and five of six.
"Over the last few weeks, our group has taken a step in mental toughness," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I didn’t see a win of that score coming, though. I definitely thought we’d be in a tight game."
Semyon Varlamov allowed eight goals on 28 shots, but three came in the final 5 minutes with the outcome already decided.
"What happened in the last 5 minutes, we have to look at each other and play for our goaltender there," said Avalanche assistant captain Paul Stastny. "Those last two goals are on us. We can’t quit on our goaltender like that. He has been our best player all year. Hanging him out to dry like that is unacceptable."
Colorado coach Patrick Roy wasn’t as upset after the game as might be expected.
"I’m not disappointed at all," he said. "(The Oilers) played well and 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 to exchange chances with. If they go on the rush, it’s their game and we played into it. We need to learn from it.
"They scored three goals in the last 4 minutes or so. It was a closer game than the score showed, I think."
Edmonton started the scoring before the game was 4 minutes old. Philip Larsen sent a long breakaway pass up ice that Hall was able to catch up to before sliding the puck through Varlamov’s pads.
Colorado had a chance to pull even 4 minutes later on a 5-on-3 power play, but Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk stoned Matt Duchene on a great opportunity at the side of the net.
Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda had to be helped off the ice with 8 minutes to play in the first period after losing an edge and going feet first heavily into the boards.
Edmonton made it 3-0 with power-play goals 15 seconds apart with just more than 2 minutes remaining in the first.
Hall got his second of the night and ninth of the season with 2:18 left on a 5-on-3 advantage, unleashing a hard one-timer from the right faceoff dot.
The Oilers then took advantage of the remaining time on the power play as Ryan Smyth sent a pass to Hemsky in full stride and he faked out Varlamov with a deke before scoring on the backhand.
Colorado got a goal back 4 minutes into the second period when Holden’s point shot caromed off a couple of Oilers players before ending up in the net.
The Avalanche made it 3-2 midway through the second period. Parenteau was able to swoop in and pick up the rebound of Dubnyk’s big glove save on a point-blank shot by Gabriel Landeskog and hook it into a wide-open net.
The Oilers went back up by two goals with 8 minutes left in the middle period when Perron went in on a 2-on-1 before electing to shoot the puck himself. It was Perron’s third goal in the last two games and team-leading 12th of the season.
Edmonton restored its three-goal lead with 11 minutes left in the third period as a pass ticked off of defenseman Nate Guenin before Arcobello kicked it up to his stick and beat Varlamov.
The Oilers made it 6-2 with just under 5 minutes left as Smyth showed good patience on a 2-on-1 before hitting Eberle for his 10th of the season. It was Smyth’s third assist of the game.
Edmonton added a pair of late goals to make it 8-2.
With 90 seconds left, Gagner intercepted a pass and then took a nice return feed from Hall before beating Varlamov glove side.
Hall got his hat trick with 11 seconds left after tipping Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ shot on net and then following it up to put home his own rebound.
"There is tremendous amount of skill here and we have to utilize it on a daily basis," Smyth said. "We can’t just sporadically use it. If we get consistent at it, we’re going to be successful."
NOTES: It was the first of three scheduled meetings between the teams this season. … Edmonton has won eight of its last 11 home games against Colorado. … Edmonton goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was put on injured reserve with concussion/whiplash symptoms after being run over in the crease last Sunday in Dallas. … Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) and forward Alex Tanguay (knee) remained on injured reserve. Veteran defenseman Cory Sarich was a healthy scratch for Colorado, which came into the game after a four-day break.