Photo credit:Andy Devlin/NHL
1 year ago
Given the circumstances, it would be a fair comment for fans of the Edmonton Oilers to accuse me of looking for the negative angle if I wrote – as I fully intended to – how difficult it’s been lately for Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi and Zach Hyman to find the back of the net going into tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals.
It’s true, with Yamamoto having just one goal in his last 10 games, Puljujarvi having none in his last 11 and Hyman with two the other night but with only that deuce to show for his last 14 games. Still, that’s not nearly as notable a storyline when you consider the date. As has been duly noted elsewhere, today is the 10-year anniversary of Sam Gagner’s eight-point night in an 8-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at old Rexall Place.
So, while the Oilers wrapping up their road swing on a winning note in their final game before the NHL all-star break certainly matters, I’m thinking the anniversary of Gagner becoming just the 12th player in league history to record eight points, and the only player to do it in the last 33 years, is worth a few paragraphs.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have had six-point games in their brilliant careers, but never eight-pointers. Gagner, with the Detroit Red Wings these days, Wayne Gretzky (he did it twice), Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Bernie Nicholls, Bryan Trottier, Anton Stastny, Peter Stastny, Maurice Richard, Tom Bladon, Bert Olmstead and Patrik Sundstrom are the select few.
WHAT A NIGHT
Failed to load video.
Gagner, who was only 22 when he lit up the Blackhawks, had four goals and four assists, with seven of the eight points coming at even strength. After getting nothing on the board in the first period, Gagner picked up three points in the second period and five more in the third – he only had 47 points that entire season.
“I look back at it fondly, certainly a cool moment,” Gagner told Jim Matheson of Post Media this week. “Like every game, you’re trying to stay in the moment. I had a bad first period, playing with Jordan (Eberle) and Philippe Cornet. Maybe that was a good thing because we changed all the lines up and I got a chance with Taylor (Hall) and Jordan.
“We took off. Nuge (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) was hurt. I really wasn’t doing too much. I figured I’d let the game come to me. When it’s brought up, whenever you’re mentioned in the same breath as some of the guys who’ve done it before, it is a really cool feeling.”
Seven of the players in that eight-point fraternity are in the HHoF. Gagner, 32, has an infinitely better chance of ending up in a hockey ops position in Edmonton when he’s done playing than in the hall, but it was a night to remember and something he can share with his grandchildren. As for the exploits of Yamamoto, Puljujarvi and Hyman leading into the break, we’ll see what happens with them tonight.
Recent articles from Robin Brownlee