Sam Gagner’s best moments with the Edmonton Oilers

Zach Laing
10 months ago
It’s hard to not feel all warm and fuzzy inside seeing Sam Gagner returning to the Edmonton Oilers for a third tour of duty.
His return is all too reminiscent of when the Oilers brought back Ryan Smyth in 2011 for his second stint with the team. While Smytty came home by way of trade, Gagner is returning home on a professional tryout.
Despite that, this has all the shades of a too-good-to-be-true sports movie. The wily veteran returns to the team where it all started for one last shot at glory. How can you not get chills thinking about that?
But before we get too ahead of ourselves here, the truth of the matter is that Gagner will still have to make this Oilers roster. Training camp will be highly competitive, but as opined yesterday, he fits the bill for a 13th forward on this team.
While this tenure is one where he won’t be looked to as the impact player he once was, I thought it might be cool to look back at some of his biggest moments in an Oilers uniform from his past.

The eight-point night

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Gagner’s biggest moment not only with the Oilers, but in the NHL as a whole was his eight-point game on February 12th, 2012.
The Oilers were hosting the Chicago Blackhawks as then 22-year-old scored four goals and as many assists in a night that put him alongside Oilers legends. He became the third Oilers player to score so many points in one game with Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey being the only two others.
In fact, the feat has only been done 15 times by 12 players before Gagner: Gretzky, Coffey, Bernie Nicholls, Mario Lemieux, Anton and Peter Stastny, Tom Bladon, Bert Olmstead, Bryan Trottier, Patrick Sundstrom, Maurice Richard and Darryl Sittler — the last of whom is the only player to have 10 points in game.
While Gagner could’ve put those eight points up against any team in the league, he did it against one of the best in the NHL. The Oilers were 19-26-5 while the Blackhawks were 29-15-7, and entered the game as heavy betting favourites.
Chicago opened the scoring in the game early and extended their lead to 2-0 a minute into the second period. Minutes later, Gagner sprung Taylor Hall on a breakaway who got the Oilers on the board cutting the lead to 2-1. Gagner tied the game up with a wraparound goal off his own rebound to tie the game, and got his third point with a powerplay assist off a Ryan Whitney goal to give the Oilers a lead.
While Patrick Sharp would score a short-handed goal tying it at 3 heading into the third, Gagner exploded after. He fired home a rebound early in the third to make it 4-3 and picked up a secondary assist shortly thereafter on a Cam Barker goal. Dave Bolland cut the score to 5-4, but Gagner took a Hall pass into the offensive zone ripping it home to make it 6-4.
A tic-tac-toe between Hall, Eberle and Gagner resulted in the latter getting his fourth goal of the game. Finally, Gagner found Eberle in the slot for an easy tap-in goal with under four minutes left.

His shootout goal in his rookie season

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Gagner never had much issue in the way of puck skills, and in his rookie season, showed those off to win a game for the Oilers in the shootout.
It came in a November 24th, 2007 game against the Chicago Blackhawks where Gagner’s dazzling moves helped push the Oilers to victory.
“The tenderfooted rookie with the veteran hands put his new wood blade to work in the shootout, which is quickly becoming Sam Gagner’s personal stage,” the Edmonton Journal’s Joanne Ireland opined about the game. “He flicked the puck back and forth and back again before he beat Nikolai Khabibulin to send the Edmonton Oilers on their way to a 3-2 win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.”

Gagner’s first NHL fight

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This is one I’ll never forget.
Gagner’s first fight in the NHL came against Ryan Kesler in a Feb. 16, 2008 game against the Vancouver Canucks. The affair in and of itself was one to remember, as within the first 21 seconds of the game, there were already 30 PIM handed out.
By the end of the night, the game sheet saw 39 penalties, seven misconducts, and 15 fighting majors — among them, Gagner. The Canucks had been up 3-2 in the game when Alex Burrows, with 40 seconds left on the clock, scored on an empty net throwing his arms up in jubilation.
Jarrett Stoll, meanwhile, was having none of it kicking off a skirmish behind the Oilers’ net. As the camera zoomed into the battle, Gagner and Kesler floated off to the middle of the defensive zone with their gloves on the ground.
Kesler landed the first punch right on the chin of Gagner before he came back with a few heavy swings of his own, before grabbing Kesler’s leg and trying to go for the takedown.

Gagner’s return to Edmonton

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As mentioned above, Gagner’s return to Edmonton was a moment of jubilation, and his first goal back was scored in typical Gagner fashion. The late Colby Cave gained the offensive zone passing it off to Tobias Reider. Gagner, meanwhile, found an open spot on the ice and just seven minutes into a game against the New York Islanders, found the back of the net.
What say you, Nation? What’s your most memorable Sam Gagner moment?

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.


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