Sam Gagner had a night worthy of Wayne Gretzky or any of the other legends whose numbers hang from the rafters at Rexall Place.
Gagner scored four of Edmonton's goals and assisted on the other four for the first eight-point game in the NHL in more than 23 years as the Oilers routed the Chicago Blackhawks 8-4 on Thursday night.
Gagner is the 11th player in NHL history to record eight points in a game -- a list that includes two Oilers, Gretzky (twice) and Paul Coffey -- but the first since Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux did it on Dec. 31, 1988. Gagner joins Lemieux, who also had two eight-point performances, as the only players to score eight points with one on each of his team's goals.
"I think this is the only situation I can ever have my name mentioned in their breath," Gagner told the NHL Network when asked about joining players like Gretzky and Coffey on the short list of players who've had eight points in a game. "It's really an honor to have a night like this and be mentioned in that class, even if it's only for tonight.
"You look at the way those guys played; they never set limits on themselves. I think tonight that was my mindset -- I didn't want to stop. I just wanted to continue to get out there and try to create. My linemates -- I've got to give them a lot of credit. They did a great job of finding me and getting me the puck."
The eight points matched the most ever allowed by the Hawks to one player; Montreal's Bert Olmstead had eight on Jan. 9, 1954.
It's hard to imagine a more unlikely eight-point scorer. The four goals were only one less than Gagner had scored in his first 43 games this season; he entered the night with five goals and 17 assists for 22 points. The first-round pick by the Oilers in 2007 has never scored more than 16 goals or 47 points in any of his four NHL seasons.
"To get this at the NHL level is something I can't even really fathom," Gagner told the NHL Network. "I don't even really know how to react to it."
Darryl Sittler holds the NHL single-game record with 10 points for Toronto against Boston on Feb. 7, 1976.
The Hawks, who got two goals by Patrick Sharp, actually led 2-0 after Sharp's first of the night 40 seconds into the second period, and they fired 47 shots at Devan Dubnyk. But Gagner had a goal and two assists in the second period, then fired home three more goals while setting up tallies by Cam Barker and Jordan Eberle for a five-point third period.
"From the goaltender out, everyone should look at this game with good memories," coach Tom Renney said.
Taylor Hall and Ryan Whitney also scored for the Oilers (20-26-5), who are 3-0-1 in their last four games.
Jamal Mayers and Dave Bolland had the other goals for the Hawks, who've dropped four in a row and are 0-1-1 on a nine-game road trip. Chicago has to be happy that it has no more visits to Rexall Place this season -- the Hawks lost both games in Edmonton and allowed 17 goals in the process.
The nightmarish night left Hawks coach Joel Quenneville trying to figure out what went wrong.
"We did some good things until they scored the first goal," Quenneville said. "We got out of what we wanted to do. They like to score; they like to go off the rush, they like to attack, and we can't play that way. We have to be more patient. They like to play run-and-gun, and they were better than us at it by a long margin."
The game started out just fine for the Hawks, who grabbed a 1-0 lead at 6:29 of the opening period when Mayers' long shot fluttered past Dubnyk. Only some help from the goal posts, which denied Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw, kept the Oilers close going into the first intermission.
Patrick Kane set up Sharp's solo rush for a 2-0 lead on the first shift of the middle period before Gagner took over.
The Oilers made it 2-1 at 2:22 when Gagner's long pass sprung Hall, who chipped a shot past Corey Crawford for his 18th of the season. Gagner tied it just over five minutes later when he picked up his own rebound, circled the net and scored on a wraparound.
Whitney's power-play goal at 12:23 put the Oilers ahead 3-2 and gave Gagner his third point of the night. But Sharp buried his own rebound for a shorthanded goal at 15:33 to send the teams into the second intermission even at 3-3.
Gagner made it 4-3 at 1:54 of the third with his second goal of the night, putting home a loose puck after Whitney's shot sailed over the net but bounced in front. The Oilers then chased Crawford at 3:43 when Barker fluttered a shot from the left point that Crawford waved at as it went into the top corner. Gagner earned his third assist and Ray Emery replaced Crawford.
"They scored on the first shift of the third (period)," Quenneville said. "I didn't like how things unraveled after that.
"I know we want to score, we want to get on the offensive side of things. But we've got to be disciplined."
The goalie change gave the Hawks a brief spark, as Bolland's no-look backhand swat squirted past Dubnyk at 5:57. But just 28 seconds later, Hall spun and found Gagner streaking to the net for a shot past Emery that completed his hat trick and gave him six points.
With the sellout crowd of 16,839 roaring every time he touched the ice, Gagner slapped home his fourth of the night after some great tic-tac-toe passing by Eberle and Hall. He then added his eighth point of the game by sliding a perfect feed to Eberle, who scored his 20th of the season with 3:45 left.
"This is a great feeling," said Gagner, who finished plus-6 and got his eight points in just 17:28 of ice time, taking only six shots on goal. "Everything I shot went in. Every time I touched the puck, it seemed like I got an assist.
"It's a crazy feeling -- I think we scored five shifts in a row in the third period."
Perhaps the only good thing for the Hawks is that they won't have much time to dwell on this one -- they left right after the game for Calgary, where they face the Flames on Friday.
"We're going to Calgary, and we should be disappointed," Quenneville said. "We should be embarrassed. Let's make sure we're thinking about what happened tonight."