Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recorded his first career NHL hat trick, but the Canucks stayed step-for-step, besting the Oilers 4-3 in a highly-entertaining Saturday night tilt at Rexall Place.
Devan Dubnyk got the start in goal, posting 22 saves in the loss.
For all the country to see on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, the Oilers and Canucks began the Saturday night clash with a frenetic pace, racing end-to-end and registering a pair of shots each in the opening three minutes. Starting netminders Roberto Luongo and Devan Dubnyk stood tall to keep the game scoreless.
At 3:18, the Oilers were granted the game's first power-play when Vancouver's Jannik Hansen was assessed a cross-checking minor. The home side notched another attempt, but couldn't crack the 0-0 score during the two-minute advantage.
Passed the period's seven mark, the tables turned and the Canucks went up a man when Ryan Smyth was charged for tripping Alex Burrows at 7:07. The Oilers came into tonight's contest with a 10-for-11 PK, but were unable to contain the Canucks' peppering of Dubnyk.
Four shots were added, including a goal when Sami Salo's bomb from the high-slot to put the Canucks up 1-0 at 8:49.
Down 7-3 on the shot clock and 1-0 on the scoreboard, the Oilers looked to respond with another power-play chance; a minor to Daniel Sedin put the home team in a 5-on-4 situation at 10:13. That opportunity passed without incident, but another infraction to Vancouver's No. 22 2:33 later put the Oilers back on the power-play.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made sure the rockin' Rexall Place crowd could cheer this time around. With help from Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, RNH one-timed a cross-crease pass behind Luongo, making it a 1-1 game at 13:44.
43 seconds later, Andy Sutton (6'6" 245-lbs) engaged with Vancouver's Aaron Volpatti (6'0" 215-lbs) in a spirited heavyweight bout. While the Oilers' D man knocked Volpatti with a couple early punches, his counterpart responded, landing several of his own and earning the decision.
On the Oilers' 12th shot with only 29 seconds to play, Nugent-Hopkins cashed his second to give his club the lead heading into the intermission; he skillfully tipped Tom Gilbert's long-range wrister past Luongo, who was buried deep in his crease, short-side.
Through 20 minutes, the Oilers led 2-1 and were in possession of a 12-8 edge in shots.
Nugent-Hopkins was at it again early on, setting up Taylor Hall on a 3-on-1 opportunity, but his pass took an irregular hop, allowing the Canucks to clear the zone.
At 2:19, Vancouver went back to the power-play when Theo Peckham was charged with a tripping minor. A high-sticking penalty to Ryan Smyth 51 seconds into the advantage provided the visitors with a 1:01-long 5-on-3. Another play choreographed by a Salo one-timer helped pull the Canucks even. His point blast was tipped on goal, allowing Henrik Sedin to swoop in and bang home the goal-line rebound.
As the period's midway mark passed, the Oilers had extended to a 21-12 shot advantage, and a strong sequence at 11:06 pushed the home side back to the power-play. Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Hall continued to dominate, setting the stage for a tripping minor to be called on Vancouver's Mikael Samuelsson.
That line pressed hard late in the advantage, orchestrating what appeared to be RNH's hat-trick tally. The rookie snapped the puck on goal, but a diving glove save by Luongo preserved the 2-2 score.
Another tripping minor to Vancouver's Hansen at 16:06 put the Oilers back on the power-play, putting the Oilers in a position to grab the lead and for the team's dynamic trio to impress once more. And they did. Nugent-Hopkins took a pass, snapping the puck on goal and beating Luongo along the ice to put the Oilers ahead 3-2.
Fans didn't know at the time, but RNH's hat-trick had been recorded. As play continued, hundreds of hats came pouring down as the goal was announced by public address announcer Mark Lewis. The game was delayed for several minutes as the ice was cleared, giving fans another chance to cheer and chant Nugent-Hopkins' name.
Although the Oilers had seized momentum, the Canucks didn't back down. At 19:44, Daniel Sedin's centering pass was redirected home by Alex Burrows, cutting the Oilers' lead and making it a 3-3 game.
With 40 minutes in the books, the Oilers held a 26-17 shot lead but were locked in a 3-3 score.
The Oilers were unable to register a shot through the opening eight minutes, while the Canucks collected six, including the go-ahead goal at 7:47. Canucks D man Sami Salo took a pass in the high-slot, cocked his weapon and snapped a wrister through bodies and into the net behind Dubnyk on his team's 23rd attempt.
Two third-period shots by the 13-minute mark meant the Oilers' comeback quest had hit hard times.
The Oilers pulled Dubnyk for an extra-attacker in the game's final minute, but the 4-4 goal couldn't be manufactured. Despite being out-shot by a 30-26 margin, the Canucks escaped Rexall Place with a 4-3 win.
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