Special teams played a prominent role in the Blackhawks’ performance in Edmonton on Monday night. Unlike some other games against the Oilers over the last few years, this time Chicago benefited from a couple big plays.
Jonathan Toews opened the scoring with a short-handed tally 5:14 into the opening period. The Oilers had five forwards on the ice, and Nail Yakupov did an outstanding job of watching Toews blow past him. Chicago’s captain embarrassed Edmonton starter Devan Dubnyk with a slick move in front of the net and scored for the 12th time on the season.
That goal tied Toews with Patrick Kane for the team lead, but that would be short-lived.
Less than three minutes after Toews’ goal, Kane scored a power play goal to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead. Duncan Keith was credited with the secondary assist on both of the first period goals, making him the leader among all NHL defensemen this season with 19 helpers to date.
The goal extended Kane’s point streak to 11 straight games.
In the second period, Corey Potter tapped a rebound into his own net 88 seconds in to make the score 3-0 Hawks. Johnny Oduya, who had another strong performance, was credited with his second goal of the season. Oduya also accumulated four blocked shots, the fourth of which stung him during a third period penalty kill. He did not miss a shift, however.
Andrew Shaw added to the scoring for Chicago with his sixth goal of the season off a pretty setup from Jeremy Morin. That goal would be enough for Edmonton to make a change in net, and Ilya Bryzgalov came in to make his Oilers debut less than six minutes into the second period.
Shaw added his seventh of the season late in the third period to close the books on a dominant 5-1 Chicago victory.
Corey Crawford wasn’t tested much in the first 4o minutes, but stood tall on a number of decent scoring chances to earn another victory. Crawford kept 24 of 25 Edmonton shots out of the net.
Ten different Blackhawks registered a point in the game, led by Shaw’s three points – two goals and the primary assist on Kane’s goal – and Keith’s two assists. Shaw won only one of eight faceoffs, but was also credited with one hit and one takeaway in the game.
Brandon Bollig was credited with three hits and one assist in a game that wasn’t very physical until David Perron decided to throw a few late hits with the game out of reach late in the third. Kris Versteeg led the Hawks with two takeaways.
The Hawks successfully killed all three Edmonton power plays on the night, and scored one goal on their four advantages.
Part of the good penalty kill performance was the re-introduction of Michal Handzus in the lineup. The veteran center skated 12:57 in the game – 2:05 of which came short-handed – and won five of nine faceoffs in his first action since late October.
Marian Hossa is expected to join the Blackhawks in Calgary on Wednesday.
The Hawks are 4-1-0 and have outscored their opponents 19-11 since they were blown out in Nashville, and five of those 11 goals against came in their loss to the Avs.