Taylor Hall out for the season with high ankle sprain

Last night we knew that Taylor Hall’s awkward post-fight fall looked dangerous. Today, the fears of Oiler Nation were confirmed as it was announced that Hall suffered a high ankle sprain and will be out for 8 weeks. Considering there are only 5 weeks left in the regular season and the Oilers have been eliminated since Thanksgiving, we’ve seen the last of the #1 overall pick for the 2010-11 season.

If a player had to lose the rest of his season to injury, Hall certainly went out with a bang. He had a goal, an assist, and a fight in less than 10 minutes of ice time—including his final shift where he completely undressed Fedor Tyutin, threw a hit on Matt Calvert, and defended himself against Derek Dorsett. He looked like the kind of player who could completely take over a game—just like they thought he could when they picked him in last June’s draft.

With Hall getting injured while engaging in fisticuffs, it has brought up the never-ending debate amongst hockey fans: should star players get into fights or let their teammates fight their battles for them? Derek Dorsett obviously went after Hall with one thing on his mind—but was it Hall’s job to answer the bell or should he have left it to one of his teammates whose job it is to protect his star player?

There’s a time and place for everything. If this were a situation where Hall dropped the gloves in a choreographed fight right off a faceoff, then it would be hard to defend his decision making. But in this instance, Hall went at it immediately when the Blue Jacket forward went after him. The fight was in the flow of the game and one of Edmonton’s best young players showed that he could stand up for himself. It’s a subtle distinction—but makes all the difference in the world.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. The fight lead to the worst possible conclusion and the Oilers lose their most dynamic player for the rest of the season. It was an unlucky break but we’ve seen situations like this before with Steve Ott and more recently with TJ Oshie. If you asked them if they wanted their best player to injure himself for the rest of the season, obviously they’d choose for him to keep his gloves on his talented hands. But he did the right thing and by dropping the gloves. He showed the type of character that has to have people in Edmonton excited for the future. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait until September to see it.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.