Magnus Paajarvi's hat trick steals the show in Taylor Hall's preseason debut

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While tonight’s Lightning-Oilers game was trumpeted as the preseason debut of Taylor Hall – the top pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft – another top Edmonton prospect stole the show. Magnus Paajarvi* took over tonight’s exhibition, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist on an Andrew Cogliano goal to help the Oilers win 5-2.

Here is an entertaining clip of Paajarvi’s first goal, which features the shifty winger catching some Lightning defensemen flat-footed and then getting very lucky that his fanned-on shot found pay dirt.

Now, that’s not to say that Taylor Hall was chopped liver in this one, though. The top pick scored an unassisted powerplay goal via a backhand shot 7:57 into the third period. Jen Sharpe of the Oilers’ official Web site described the scene in her live blog of the contest.

Midway through a Tampa Bay team penalty for too many men, Ellis skated out and attemped to clear the puck. But Hall while crossing the blue line, Hall pulled the puck out of mid-air, deked around the goalie, and tapped it into the net to make it 4-1 Oilers.

Hall received a standing ovation for his feat, and two minutes later, Paajarvi made the crowd cheer even louder. Despite being down a man, the Swede star skated up the right wing and fired past Ellis to score shorthanded, secure a hat trick, and register his fourth point of the game.

Taylor Hall had plenty of scoring opportunities before he found the net, but my guess is he’ll be pretty happy if other players such as Paajarvi end up being the team’s best players on some nights once the real games begin. Preseason successes can often generate delusional dreams among fans like a flirtatious stripper, but don’t blame Oilers fans for fantasizing a bit about the team’s newest prospects.

It’s been a while since they’ve had this much positivity to cling to.

* – I’m still disappointed that he dropped the “-Svensson” from the end of his name. This factoid should be integrated into his nickname in some way; maybe we could call him “The Anti-Hyphen” or “The Skate-ist Formerly Known as Paajarvi-Svensson” …? No? OK, I’ll retreat to my hockey dungeon then.

Note: We’ll have recaps of tonight’s other preseason games a little later tonight.

Lightning give Vasilevskiy the hook after very rare Jurco goal

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By just about any measure, Monday’s been lousy to Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

He was pulled with a few minutes remaining in the first period after Chicago Blackhawks built a 3-1 lead, scoring those three goals on just eight shots on net.

You could summarize Vasilevskiy’s awful start by those numbers, or by how rare the 3-1 goal was for the scorer.

Tomas Jurco failed to score a goal or an assist in 16 games with the Red Wings, then went pointless in nine more games with Chicago before finally scoring his first goal of the season on Monday.

Now, Jon Cooper didn’t pull Vasilevskiy because Jurco scored that tally. Still, it rubs a little extra salt in his wounds all things considered.

Coach Q thinks Anisimov will be back by playoffs for Blackhawks

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The bad news is that Artem Anisimov seems likely to miss all – or at least most – of the regular season for the Chicago Blackhawks with his lower-body injury.

The good? Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville believes that Anisimov will be ready once the playoffs swing into motion, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.

Anisimov was hurt when he got tangled up with Canadiens forward Alex Radulov on March 14:

The Blackhawks have been filling Anisimov’s typical spot alongside Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin with Ryan Hartman and Nick Schmaltz lately. There have been flashes of brilliance with Schmaltz, but Chicago would probably feel most confident with Anisimov back in his familiar place.

Chicago’s Central lead is pretty secure over the Minnesota Wild at the moment, which likely reduces motivation to rush Anisimov back before he’s truly ready. The Blackhawks close out their regular season on April 8, so there’s still time for him to heal up.

Ducks demote Enroth, so Gibson’s close to a return

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The Anaheim Ducks are flying high – er, waddling with some swagger? – right now thanks to Jonathan Bernier‘s somewhat shocking turnaround, but the pending return of John Gibson is promising.

(Especially since the Ducks will likely want him to shake off some rust before the playoffs begin.)

While it’s not clear if he’s exactly 100 percent healthy just yet, the Ducks sending Jhonas Enroth back to the AHL is a strong sign that Gibson is close.

Enroth actually never got a shot to start for the Ducks, as his last NHL appearance came on Nov. 30, closing off his ill-fated run with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Considering that Enroth was once a fairly hot commodity as at least a promising backup, it will be interesting to see how his 2017-18 season pans out. Will he get more or less of a chance than he received this season?

Bernier, meanwhile, is richly rewarding the Ducks for sticking with him.

He’s provided them with a Vezina-caliber March: 9-1-1, 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with one shutout. You almost wonder if there’s at least some potential for a goalie controversy if Gibson stumbles whenever he gets back into action … but hey, having two good goalies to choose from is better than none.

(Which was the scenario that must have scared the Ducks when Gibson got hurt in the first place.)

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Tampa Bay Lightning

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The Tampa Bay Lightning almost certainly haven’t faced the Chicago Blackhawks in a game this important since the two teams were vying for a Stanley Cup.

While the Blackhawks have already punched their ticket to the postseason and are merely trying to pad their lead in the Central Division, the Bolts are fighting for their playoff lives. At the moment, they rank three points behind the Boston Bruins for the final spot in the East. With a game in hand, they can make up a lot of ground tonight.

With all of that in mind, it should be an entertaining contest. You can check it out on NBCSN, watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.