Jordan Eberle showed the Barons' largest crowd of the season why he represented the Edmonton Oilers in last year's NHL All-Star Game.
Eberle recorded the first hat trick of his professional career and added a fourth goal in the final seconds of a 5-3 Barons win over San Antonio on Saturday night in front of 6,491 fans at the Cox Convention Center.
“It was one of those nights the pucks go in,” Eberle said. “Hallsy (Taylor Hall) has been all over me for quite a while for never being able to capitalize on a hat trick.”
Hall, another Oiler playing in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout, played on the same line with Eberle the past two seasons in Edmonton.
Eberle had 11 two-goal games in the pros — six with the Oilers, four this season with the Barons and one with Springfield — but never a hat trick.
“I finally got the monkey off my back for sure,” said Eberle, smiling. “I can give it to Hallsy now that I have an AHL hat trick. It's all camaraderie. He usually bugs me in the room if I have two and says I'm going to get a hat trick, which usually jinxes it.”
Eberle scored his league leading 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th goals and also had an assist on Justin Schultz's 13th goal of the season in the first period.
“People saw again tonight why he's a really good NHL player,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “They were all nice goals. And we needed every one of them because San Antonio played well tonight.”
Eberle's first goal midway through the second period gave the Barons a 2-1 lead. His second goal late in the second period was the back end of a picturesque give-and-go with Mark Arcobello to give OKC a 3-1 lead.
San Antonio scored a power-play goal late in the second period goal to claw to within 3-2. Eberle countered with a power-play goal 52 seconds into the third period to get his hat trick.
The Rampage, though, also got a hat trick from Jon Sim, his final goal making it 4-3 with 7:31 left. Eberle sealed the Barons' win with his fourth goal, an empty-netter with 4.7 seconds left.
Arcobello, one of the key players in the Barons' run to the Western Conference finals last season, had four assists.
“We had a lot of good chemistry tonight,” Arcobello said. “This is one I'm sure Ebs will always remember.”
Nelson moved Arcobello to Eberle's line earlier in the week, putting Hall on a line with Magnus Paajarvi and Anton Lander.
“We had Arco on a line with Ebs a lot during training camp and there's chemistry there,” Nelson said. “Arco is a creative thinker. It was very evident when he set up Justin Schultz for our first goal.”
Schultz had a goal and an assist. But with five points in Saturday's win, Eberle has tied Schultz for the AHL scoring lead. They both have 37 points.
The Barons entered the weekend in ninth in the Western Conference. Following back-to-back wins over San Antonio, the Barons head into Sunday's game at Houston tied for fifth.
“It was a very good game for us, a nice win,” Nelson said. “We had key goals at certain times. It was great efforts by Jordan Eberle and Mark Arcobello.”