When the Edmonton Oilers selected Taylor Hall first overall in last year’s NHL draft, they hoped they landed a game-breaking player.
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He lived up to that billing in rallying the Oilers past the Atlanta Thrashers.
The rookie scored three power-play goals in the third period for his first NHL hat trick, and the Oilers stormed back in the final frame to beat the Thrashers 5-3 on Saturday.
”It’s a great feeling anytime a player can get a hat trick and contribute to your team,” Hall said. ”But if we don’t get those power plays and play strong as a group in the third, I don’t get those goals.
”It was a really fun night on all parts. Everyone chanting your name and all of the hats raining down, It’s something I will never forget.”
This is exactly the kind of performance the Oilers are looking forward to getting from Hall for years to come.
”We’re a team that is fighting to gain respect and create an identity, and at the same time throw a wrench in other teams’ plans,” coach Tom Renney said. ”Taylor seized the opportunity to really sign this one.”
Edmonton trailed 3-1 in the third, but came back to post its first three-game winning streak at home since last March. Magnus Paajarvi and Ales Hemsky also scored for the Oilers (19-32-8).
Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd and Evander Kane had goals for the playoff-hopeful Thrashers, who have dropped five straight road games during a stretch in which they have lost seven of eight and 14 of 17 overall.
”We gave them life,” Atlanta coach Craig Ramsey said of his team’s third-period collapse. ”Everything was going in our favor and then we take three penalties and give them those power-play chances and get behind.
”They walked them out and stuffed them in the net. It was really disheartening to see that. We didn’t get it done killing penalties and we didn’t get it done on the power play.”
Atlanta took a 1-0 lead on its first shot of the game 4 1/2 minutes in as Byfuglien’s floater from the point went in off goalie Devan Dubnyk’s glove.
The Thrashers almost doubled their advantage with six minutes left in the first period, but Bryan Little fired a shot off the post after the Oilers gave away the puck in their zone,
Atlanta did go ahead 2-0 59 seconds into the second when Ladd golfed in a rebound for his 21st goal.
Edmonton cut its deficit in half with five minutes remaining in the period as Paajarvi scored on a wrist shot from the top of the circle that went between Chris Mason’s pads.
The Thrashers countered 1:12 into the third when Kane went around Dustin Penner and scored his 17th goal of the season as the teams played 4-on-4.
But the Oilers tied it on Hall’s first two power-play goals less than a minute apart.
Just 30 seconds after Atlanta scored, Hall stepped out from the side of the net and surprised Mason with a shot through his legs. Hall scored again 40 seconds later, converting a pass from behind the net by Hemsky.
With seven minutes left, Atlanta’s Nik Antropov was given a double high-sticking penalty. Hall then completed the natural hat trick to give him 20 goals this season.
Hemsky rounded out the scoring with an empty-net goal with 12 seconds left.
Notes: It was the only meeting this season between the two teams. … The Thrashers had forward Blake Wheeler and defenseman Mark Stuart in the lineup after acquiring them Friday in a trade with Boston. … Edmonton placed disgruntled D Sheldon Souray on re-entry waivers. Souray, who has been playing for Hershey (AHL) can be claimed by NHL teams on Monday. … Oilers rookie RW Jordan Eberle came in with eight points in eight games since returning from an ankle injury. … Atlanta’s penalty-killing unit is the second worst in the NHL at 76.5 percent. Only Edmonton is worse at 75.5 per cent. … NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance before heading to Calgary for Sunday’s outdoor Heritage Classic between the host Flames and the Montreal Canadiens.