EDMONTON - With the Edmonton Oilers struggling to stay alive in the playoff race and the Vancouver Canucks coming to town on a six-game winning streak, this game had blowout written all over it.
And that's exactly what it was.
Only it was Vancouver on the wrong end of the onslaught. And it was over quickly. After five shots.
The Oilers scored on four of them, three off the stick of Taylor Hall and one from Ladislav Smid, to post a 4-0 lead (the eventual final score), chased Vancouver's starting goalie, rattled his back-up and sent Rexall Place into a frenzy.
The goals came fast and furious. Hall put one into the top corner at 16 seconds. Smid connected on a point shot at 2:05. Hall put one into the other corner at 2:43 and Hall scored his third of the night, five hole from close range, on the power play, at 7:53.
The Canucks didn't know what hit them. Starting netminder Cory Schneider was on the bench after giving up two goals on two shots in 2:05, reliever Roberto Luongo gave up two goals on the first three shots he faced and by the end of the first period, 15 of Vancouver's 18 skaters were in the minus figures.
The rest of the game was scoreless as the Canucks appeared to be in a state of shock and the Oilers seemed to take their foot off the gas.
This was the first of many measuring sticks for the Oilers, who'll be facing a steady diet of high caliber teams down the stretch. They play Anaheim three times, Minnesota twice, Vancouver twice and have singles with Los Angeles and Chicago in their final 14 games.
The Canucks, meanwhile, are in a dogfight with Minnesota for first place in the Northwest division.
NOTES: Edmonton's three goals in the first 2:43 were the fastest three goals from the start of a game in franchise history, breaking the record set in 1981. ... Hall's hat-trick broke Wayne Gretzky's record for fastest hat trick from the start of a game by almost five minutes (7:53 to 12:38). ... Before getting yanked after two goals on two shots in the first 2:05, Vancouver goalie Schneider had a six-game winning streak during which he had a .964 save percentage and 0.99 goals against average. ... Oilers center Sam Gagner played his 400th NHL game. ... Canucks captain Henrik Sedin extended his games played streak to 616 games, the seventh longest in NHL history. ... Prior to Saturday night, the Canucks had allowed six goals in their last six games.