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Smyth's third-period hat trick lifts Oilers past Sharks

Oct 13, 2006 - 4:56 AM EDMONTON, Alberta (Ticker) -- Jonathan Cheechoo knows it isn't his day when he registers a natural hat trick - and Ryan Smyth records a faster one.

Smyth scored three consecutive goals in a span of just over two minutes of the third period, lifting the Edmonton Oilers to a wild 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose initially appeared primed to open its season with a fourth consecutive win as Cheechoo netted three straight goals, spanning the first two periods, and Milan Michalek added a power-play tally at 8:59 of the middle session to make it 4-1.

But Smyth set up newcomer Joffrey Lupul several minutes later to draw Edmonton within two goals and, in the third period, the longest-tenured Oiler single-handedly brought his team back.

"We wanted to play with a little bit of a swagger and confidence," Smyth said. "There's no quit in this hockey team."

Smyth scored on a two-man advantage and also on the ensuing 5-on-4 power play - both tallies coming on deflections - to forge a 4-4 tie. He then completed Edmonton's comeback - and his fifth career hat trick - at 6:06 of the third period.

He collected a loose puck in the right faceoff circle, spun around and shot it between the pads of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who was unable to locate the puck.

"I guess it's a sign of the new NHL where anything is possible," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "It's a good lesson for us to never play ourselves out of a game. (Smyth's) second goal was a great deflection and the third he actually shot the thing."

With the Oilers on a 5-on-3 advantage, Smyth deflected a blast by Jarret Stoll past Nabokov. Just 14 seconds later, he tipped a slap shot by defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, and the puck flipped over Nabokov and into the net to tie it.

"(In the second intermission, we said that we) can't play ourselves out of it," Smyth said. "(MacTavish) came in here and said we had to keep moving our feet and we couldn't keep throwing the puck away. And as a result, we started getting pucks out to the point and in on net."

Smyth's hat trick encapsulated only 2 minutes, 1 second, breaking the franchise record held by the immortal Wayne Gretzky.

"Somebody said that it was 2 minutes, 1 second, but I think the puck was actually on his stick for all of about .4 seconds," Oilers left wing Ethan Moreau joked. "They were typical Smytty goals, but that's why he's the best at what he does. It's not lucky, he's unbelievable in front of the net."

Ales Hemsky capped the scoring on a breakaway and Dwayne Roloson made 19 saves for the Oilers, who still have not lost the Sharks at home since November 30, 2003.

"It looked like two different teams once the third period started," MacTavish said.

Cheechoo's hat trick was his first of the season and the sixth of his career. Nabokov finished with 26 saves and reigning Hart Trophy winner Joe Thornton chipped in three assists for San Jose, which was 3-for-10 with the man advantage.

"We stopped supporting our defense as much (after the first period)," Cheechoo said. "When that happens, obviously you're going to turn the puck over when they've got no one to pass it to. We've gotta learn to play better with the lead."






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