During his sterling stint with the Windsor Spitfires Taylor Hall was a regular on the penalty kill so when it became apparent he was going to see some time on the Edmonton Oilers’ special teams unit this pre-season he was ready to give it a go.

Ditto for Ales Hemsky although the veteran winger’s “I played back in the day” reference was a little dustier than that of his linemate. Still the two are now part of Dallas Eakins’ pre-season project which is to ramp up the penalty kill by utilizing some of his offensive players.

The Edmonton Oilers did just that again on Saturday when they beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 at Rexall Place.

The Oilers sent out more skilled players than the visitors who countered with bangers and crashers then proceeded to net the game’s first goal.

At 1:20 Mike Santorelli put the puck past Jason LaBarbera who faced a total of nine shots before turning the net over to Edmonton native Ty Rimmer. Rimmer is in camp on a tryout and could very well have played himself into a contract with his nine-save performance. The lone goal that got past him came on a delayed penalty.

As for special teams the Oilers’ power play had plenty of opportunities but eked out just one goal – and it didn’t come on a two-minute five-on-three or a four-minute advantage. It came at 12:59 of the first period when Sam Gagner converted a feed from David Perron.

Perron then put the Oilers up 2-1 with a short-handed goal at 4:13 of the second.

“It’s audition night every night” Eakins said of his special teams. “I know I have some guys there who have killed penalties before but I do want some of our skill guys and our speed guys to get out there. Man we’re paying them all this money; shouldn’t they be doing that too?

“And I think it brings a different element to your penalty kill too” added Eakins who let his assistants run the bench on Saturday while he watched Smyth Nail Yakupov and Will Acton (empty net) round out the scoring.