Hall’s OT goal leads Oilers to 4th straight win
Sunday, December 5, 2010
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Taylor Hall is quickly starting to look quite comfortable in the NHL.
Hall scored the winning goal 23 seconds into overtime as the Edmonton Oilers extended their winning streak to four by beating the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Saturday night.
Hall, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, was sent in on a breakaway by Ryan Whitney and scored his ninth goal of the season and third in two games.
“There are all kinds of guys on this team you would like to see get a breakaway in overtime, and he leads the parade,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “He has all kinds of confidence and knows exactly what he wants to do. It was a great play.”
Hall’s stellar goal erased a rather tepid overall performance by the Oilers.
“We were a little flat, to say the least,” Renney said. “Our goaltender (Nikolai Khabibulin) was outstanding and gave us a reason to believe we could find the way to win the game. We just found a way to muscle through it.”
Ryan Jones also scored for the Oilers (10-12-4), who have won five of six.
“They’re a blue-collar team, and those teams are hard to play against because they control the puck,” Jones said of the Blues. “When they do that, it takes momentum away. We’re the exact same team, so the play went back and forth and back and forth. There wasn’t a lot of play in the neutral zone.”
Eric Brewer had the lone goal for the Blues (12-9-4), who have dropped five straight. It is St. Louis’ longest stretch without a win since December 2008.
“I thought we battled hard and did some positive things,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. “They took advantage of their chances. It was a tough one to lose. I thought if we kept going the way that we were, that we were going to get the ’W.’ But sometimes it doesn’t work out. We have to keep our heads up.”
The Oilers had the best early opportunity four minutes in as Hall’s shot went off the glass and hit goalie Jaroslav Halak in the back. The puck headed toward the net before it was swept out. Jordan Eberle followed by sending a shot off the post.
St. Louis had nine first-period shots on Khabibulin. Edmonton was held to seven in the scoreless frame.
The Blues had their best chance with 11 minutes left in the second. St. Louis won a power-play faceoff cleanly, but Khabibulin got over in time to stop a point-blank drive by Brad Boyes.
Khabibulin kept his team in it with a pad save on Andy McDonald’s shot four minutes later. St. Louis had a 24-16 shots advantage through two periods.
The Oilers finally broke the deadlock 2:32 into the third period when Magnus Paajarvi chipped a pass over defenseman Erik Johnson to Jones, setting up a 2-on-1 break that led to Jones’ sixth goal.
St. Louis tied it with 6 1/2 minutes left in regulation after prolonged pressure in the Edmonton zone. Brewer picked the corner for a goal, ending Khabibulin’s hopes of a second consecutive shutout and forcing overtime.
Notes: It was the first of four meetings between the teams. St. Louis won three of four last season. ... Oilers forward Ales Hemsky missed his second game because of a groin injury and is out indefinitely. Hemsky has 18 points in 21 games. ... Jones remained in Hemsky’s spot on a line with Sam Gagner and Paajarvi. ... The Blues were without forwards T.J. Oshie (broken ankle) and David Perron (concussion) and top four defenseman Roman Polak (wrist surgery). ... The Blues came in with no goals in 16 power-play opportunities. ... Hall had seven points in his first 17 NHL games before notching five goals and two assists in the following seven.