EditorsNote: headline, first graf tweaked
James Neal collected a natural hat trick in a span of less than nine minutes bridging the first and second periods and finished with a career-high four goals Tuesday night as the Edmonton Oilers cruised to a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y.
Zack Kassian also scored for the Oilers, who are 3-0-0 for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Goalie Mikko Koskinen made 25 saves in his season debut.
Anthony Beauvillier and Matt Martin scored for the Islanders, who lost two of three on a season-opening, three-game homestand. Starting goalie Semyon Varlamov was chased after giving up four goals on 19 shots. Thomas Greiss made seven saves in relief.
Neal became the third Oilers player this century to collect four goals in a game and the first since teammate Connor McDavid did it against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 5, 2018.
The four-goal game was the first against the Islanders since Patrik Elias scored four times for the New Jersey Devils on March 30, 2003.
Beauvillier gave the Islanders a short-lived lead by scoring a breakaway short-handed goal with 5:46 left in the first period.
Neal began and finished the sequence that ended with his first goal. After intercepting a Devon Toews pass along the boards behind the Islanders’ net, Neal dished to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who briefly had the puck swiped from him by Beauvillier. But Neal swooped in, grabbed the puck back and fired a shot past Varlamov from the left faceoff circle.
Neal completed his natural hat trick with two power-play goals. He gave the Oilers the lead for good just 96 seconds later, when he was stationed to the left of the net and tucked home a pass from McDavid.
Neal was on the other side of the net 6:31 into the second, when he took a pass from Leon Draisaitl and flicked it past Varlamov.
Kassian chased Varlamov just 2:15 later.
Neal scored his fourth goal from the front of the left faceoff circle 6:51 into the third. Martin pulled the Islanders within 5-2 with 6:28 left.
—Field Level Media