By Jon Fromi
After dropping three straight contests, including an overtime loss last night in Montreal, the Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Edmonton Oilers in hopes of picking up a win for the first time in over a week. Despite falling behind early Sunday and giving up a freak short-handed goal, Chicago prevailed with a 5-3 win.
First Period-Both teams tried to gain control of the game early. The Hawks put a couple of shots on goal in the first six minutes, though they came from the perimeter and were easily handled by Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk.
Edmonton did not put a shot until the game’s seventh minute. When they did, they took the lead. Ales Hemsky came up the right side, swept across the crease and backhanded the biscuit past Antti Raanta to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead at the 6:08 mark.
With 8:03 left in the period, the Hawks go the chance to tie the score when Ryan Smyth was sent to the box for hooking Kris Versteeg. Over the next two minutes, the best scoring chance came when Smyth came out of the box to send a shot to Raanta’s blocker.
However, a moment later, Brandon Bollig forced a turnover with a big hit on Taylor Hall in the Edmonton zone. Marcus Kruger gained control of the puck and set up Niklas Hjalmarsson for a slap shot. Ben Smith was in the slot with the redirect, which beat Dubnyk at 14:26 of the period to make the score 1-1.
Hossa was turned away by Dubnyk in the 17th minute. Shaw got across the net with just under two minutes to go but couldn’t complete the transfer of the puck to the backhand side. Still, Chicago was able to enter the intermission even with the Oilers.
Second Period-The Hawks kept the momentum going in the middle frame, taking the lead in the third minute when Shaw picked up his 12th goal of the season. Keith got control of the puck in the defensive zone, getting it to Patrick Kane. Kane passed to Brandon Saad, who found Andrew Shaw on the left side for the goal.
Chicago dominated play throughout the first half of the period and forced Oilers coach Dallas Eakins to call his timeout in the ninth minute. Hall hooked Kane at the 10:23 mark. Midway through the Hawks power play, Dubnyk slashed Shaw and Raanta came to the bench on the delayed penalty call.
The Hawks put pressure on the Oilers net before Kane sent a pass off the boards toward the point. However, no one was home and the puck slid out of the Edmonton zone. To the dismay of Kane and the United Center crowd, the puck continued all the way into the empty Chicago net. At 11:29 of the period, the Oilers had knotted the game 2-2.
With a 5-on-3 still coming, Chicago was able to regain the lead a few seconds later. Duncan Keith set up Marian Hossa for a one-timer that zipped past Dubnyk into the top right corner of the net at 11:58 of the period. The Blackhawks came up empty on the rest of the remaining power play time but led 3-2.
Chicago made it a two-goal advantage late in the period thanks to a nifty play by Keith from inside his own blue line. Intercepting a pass, Keith made a quick pass to Patrick Sharp entering the neutral zone. Sharp brought the puck into Edmonton ice and sent it to Jonathan Toews. Toews finished off some nice stickhandling by sliding home a goal between Dubnyk’s pads for a 4-2 lead at the 17:32 mark.
Kruger got called for hooking Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the last minute of play to give the Oilers their first power play. Edmonton couldn’t manage a shot before the period ended and the Hawks went into the second intermission up a pair.
Third Period-The Hawks killed the remaining Edmonton power play to open the final 20 minutes. Four minutes later, Justin Schultz took a pass from Hemsky at the right post. He drew Raanta to that side before setting up Hall for a tap in coming up the middle. 5:17 into the period, the Oilers cut the lead to 4-3.
The Hawks drew a penalty with a strong move to the net by Saad. Shaw took the pass and drew a hook from Mark Arcobello 6:10 into the period. Kane made a nice move to the net but his shot found Dubnyk’s glove and the Oilers killed the penalty.
Two and a half minutes later, Dubnyk tripped Michal Handzus to give the Hawks a firth power play. Chicago was not able to extend the lead with the man advantage.
Brent Seabrook held in a shot inside the Edmonton zone in the 15 minute and sent a shot to the net. The puck changed direction on the way to Dubnyk and wound up in the net to provide some much needed breathing room. With 5:41 remaining, Chicago’s lead was 5-3
The Oilers pulled Dubnyk with a couple of minutes left. The Hawks had a couple of whacks at the empty net that didn’t connect but the clock ran out on Edmonton and the sticks were raised at center ice having broken the losing streak.
Three Stars-Keith (third), Shaw (second), Hossa (first)
-Kane broke out of a short scoring drought to post two assists on the night, as well as a goal. Sort of.
-Hossa celebrated birthday number 35 with a goal and an assist. He is now a plus-24 on the season.
-Keith was credited with just a single assist but was the catalyst on three of the Blackhawks five goals.
-Shaw, playing on the second line with Kane and Saad, had himself a nice game. He won four of seven draws and came up with a big hit on Arcobello at the end boards early in the contest.
-According to Shaw, Smith won the belt Sunday.
-Raanta saw just 20 shots on the evening, stopping 18 in giving Corey Crawford the night off.
-Chicago didn’t get off to the best start but did well to come from behind and also in shaking off the own goal. It sure was nice to pick up a win with some tough teams coming to town next week. Colorado is next up on this home stand on Tuesday.