Taylor Hall had a very memorable game last night at Rexall Place. Well in fact it was just one period, but what a period it was. Hall scored a hat trick for the Edmonton Oilers in the first 7:53 of the game in a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The three goals broke an Oiler record, held by Wayne Gretzky who previously had the quickest hat trick to start a game at 12:38.
The goals gave Hall 11 on the season and 34 points in 31 games to lead the Oilers in team scoring.
More importantly it got the Oilers one step closer to that elusive playoff spot. The win gave Edmonton 35 points which puts them, at the moment, just a point out of the 8th spot right behind the St. Louis Blues. It does put them in a logjam with four other teams in 9th spot, but regardless of the finish, the young Oilers will be playing meaningful games in the final month of the season which is exactly what Oiler management wanted for 2013.
The Oilers came out with a vengeance at home and took the Canucks by surprise. Goals by Hall and Ladislav Smid on the first two shots of the game chased Cory Schneider and with Hall scoring again on the first shot against Roberto Luongo, the Oilers were off to the races. One more goal by Hall a few minutes later and the Oilers had all the offence they needed.
Devan Dubnyk made 23 saves for the shutout against a Canucks team that looked listless for most of the night.
The Oilers face Alberta rival Calgary Flames Monday night at home before the trade deadline hits. With the Oilers just a point out of the playoffs at the moment, it will be interesting to see whether Steve Tambellini is an active buyer come April 3. They will not touch the core of their team regardless of their positioning, as their goal is long term success. However if there was a deal available to help them now as well as down the road, he would have to be interested.
First things first, the Oilers need to take care of business against the Flames and hopefully get in an even better position for the final month of the season and the stretch drive.