January 17, 2012
Oilers fall without HallBlue Jackets battle back to 4-2 victory
By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
COLUMBUS - When the team with the worst record in the NHL takes on the team with the worst record in the NHL since Nov. 1, you know it’s going to make headlines.
And this one did.
It was also fitting, given the current state of the Edmonton Oilers and Columbus Blue Jackets, that the biggest news of the night was bad, and took place before the game even started.
With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle already out with injuries, Taylor Hall completed the Franchise Player Hard Luck Hat-Trick when he suffered a nasty, 30-stitch gash over his eyebrow in the pre-game warm-up and never made it back to the ice.
Preparing to play the Blue Jackets for the first time since a season-ending leg injury against them last year, Hall stepped on a puck, took out Ladislav Smid and they both slid into Corey Potter, who caught Hall’s forehead with his skate blade while trying to jump out of the way.
“Definitely terrible, you never want to see your teammates go off the ice like that,” said Potter, who had no time to react. “I turned in the corner, had two guys sliding at me and just tried to get out of the way.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cut that bad … it was pretty deep and long. It was pretty gross.
“I was going through the warmup kind of freaked out a little bit, worried about Hallsy. Fortunately he’s doing well.”
Smid didn’t really know what happened until he got up from the pile to see his teammate’s face soaked in blood.
“Pottsy’s skate blade caught him in the face. It was actually pretty disgusting,” he said. “I hate to see that. He’s one of our best players.”
Shawn Horcoff couldn’t believe his eyes.
“He was bleeding immediately, it didn’t look good,” he said of a cut that runs from eyebrow to scalp. “I yelled to get as many (medical) people out there. They gave me some towels. It was significant.”
And another in a long line of injuries, freak or otherwise, to Edmonton’s top players. They were minus their entire top line and their top three defencemen Tuesday night.
It’s also the second pregame warmup injury of the season for Team Heartbreak. Andy Sutton (groin) came up lame moments before the national anthem earlier this year.
“Come on,” Horcoff said of the black cloud that seems to follow this team. “Are you serious? Uncle.”
Hall’s situation isn’t serious. In fact, he actually wanted to come back to the game, but they shut him down after an on-site plastic surgeon took care of the repairs.
“I was talking to him when the doctors were with him,” said GM Steve Tambellini. “Typical Taylor. He said ‘I’m ready to go, I’ll be playing tonight.’ But I think it’s best that we sat him.”
“The good news is that is a clean cut,” said Horcoff. “The plastic surgeon did a good job. A little Botox up there and he’ll be fine. We can joke about it now that he’s OK.”
The result was somewhat predictable, with the 30th-place Blue Jackets coming back from 2-0 down to beat what was left of the 28th-place Oilers 4-2.
“A little bit of a manpower problem, for starters,” said head coach Tom Renney. “And we came a little un-glued in the second period … and a tough start in the third. We just couldn’t muster up enough to push through.”
Despite playing without all three of their young sensations, Edmonton jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals from Anton Lander and Ben Eager for their most productive period in five games.
“I thought we had a great start,” said Smid. “If anything, (the injury) got us going.”
But the Win One For The Kids rally didn’t last long. The last-place Jackets scored twice in the second and early in the third to take the lead. The fitting end came with Edmonton taking a too-many-men penalty while trying to pull their goalie for the extra attacker. D’Oh!
“It just sucks to lose the way we lost,” said Smid. “Losing sucks. We should be beating teams like this.”