Taylor Hall certainly had an eventful Barons debut Friday night at the Cox Convention Center.
Hall scored 38 seconds into the game but also drew a late-game, five-minute game-misconduct penalty that his teammates had to kill off to preserve a 4-3 win over Houston.
“It's not the return I expected,” Hall said. “I played hard. I thought I played pretty well. Going forward hopefully it gets a little easier for me because it was pretty fast at times. I'm a little bit lost in my own end but overall I'm pretty happy with how it went.”
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Hall was playing for the first time in more than seven months after undergoing shoulder surgery.
But it was Jordan Eberle, one of Hall's linemates in Edmonton, who was part of a new “No. 2 line” that produced three goals. Eberle scored his third and fourth goals, the final one the game-winner with 6:16 to play.
Barons rookie defenseman Justin Schultz extended his streak of scoring in every game by making the key pass on the go-ahead goal Eberle stuffed home.
“Schultzy found me coming back door,” Eberle said. “He's such a heads-up player. He put it on my tape and I didn't have to do much other than put it in the net.”
Less than a minute after Eberle's goal, Hall drew a blow-to-the-head game misconduct penalty with 5:31 left. It produced an adventurous final five minutes. The Aeros peppered Oklahoma City goaltender Yann Danis, who recorded 35 saves.
“Yann played an outstanding game,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “He played unbelievable. The goals they beat him, he didn't have a chance. He pretty much was the story of the game. He was like that for us last year. Until we get things figured out defensively, our goalies will have to stand up.”
Similar to OKC's 6-4 loss to Houston a week ago, the Aeros controlled play, outshooting the Barons 38-18.
But this time the Barons owned a 3-0 lead heading to the third period.
The lead quickly vanished. Mikael Granlund and Johan Larsson scored 38 seconds apart early in the period. Charlie Coyle tied it on a power-play goal with 9:07 remaining.
“They came hard and made us try to move the puck out of our end,” Eberle said. “It was the same story as last time. Obviously we have a lot of work to do as far as talking. Bottom line is we got a win and you have to be happy with that.”
Nelson liked what he saw from Hall, who signed a seven-year, $42 million extension in August after scoring 95 points the past two seasons in Edmonton.
“He got involved didn't he?” Nelson said. “For his first game back, I thought he looked really good. He skated well. The hit at the end, I'm not sure it was a blow to the head. We'll have to see what the league says. I thought it was a hard check but a clean check. Overall, I thought his game was good.”
Hall won't play in Saturday's rematch against Houston. Coming off surgery, Edmonton officials don't want him playing back-to-back nights for the time being. Hall, though, displayed the speed NHL scouts rave about.
“It's not so much how fast I'm going as much as being in the right spots and getting the puck a lot,” Hall said. “That's something I have to focus on going forward.
“We have a lot of games coming up to get even more used to the game. I'm not 100 percent, yet. But I'm excited I had a pretty good game. It was really good to be back out there with the guys again.”