James Neal posted the first four-goal game of his career as the Edmonton Oilers scored a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders Tuesday night.
The Oilers are 3-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
The Islanders scored first when Anthony Beauvillier beat Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen on a shorthanded breakaway.
Neal came back with two goals in the final 2:07 off the period. He beat Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov with a mid-range slap shot and then in the final minute of the frame, he buried a power-play pass from Oilers captain Connor McDavid.
Neal struck again on the power play in the second, giving him a natural hat trick in a span of 8:38.
Edmonton forward Zack Kassian finished a passing play with Leon Draisaitl and McDavid later in the second to make it 4-1.
Neal posted his fourth goal of the night 6:51 into the third, whipping a bad angle shot behind Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss.
Matt Martin got one back for the Islanders. Brock Nelson thought he’d pulled the Islanders to within two with just over three minutes left, but it was ruled that he had kicked the puck into the net.
Neal already has six goals this season after having seven all of last season with the Calgary Flames.
After the game, Neal said he has put pressure on himself to be a goal scorer his whole career.
“Last year was a tough year and I wanted a chance to prove myself,” he said. “Obviously things worked out in the summer with the trade, and I came here and had people that believed in me and believed that I could bounce back and put a good season together and help a team win and help a team get to the playoffs.”
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Oilers head coach Dave Tippett praised Neal’s play.
“Nealer found his groove there,” he said after the game. “I think he had 11 or 12 attempts at net there, so good for him to get on the board.
“I give him credit. He’s come in here, he’s a real energized player, he’s helped our group — not just scoring some goals — but he’s really helped our group with giving us some juice in the locker-room, so happy to see him doing well.”
Tippett also said this is the best the Oilers have played so far this season.
“You try to build your game, every game,” he said. “There’s little things that we’ve tried to instil and now you’re into repetition, trying to get them doing it as many times as we can to build our team game.
“I thought it was a good team win tonight. Everyone contributed but our top guys had the power play going. Neal was obviously very good but everybody contributed to this win, and that’s who we want to be.”
Koskinen made 25 saves on Tuesday night.
The Oilers will visit the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
–With files from 630 CHED’s Cassandra Jodoin