The Blackhawks received production from all over the roster once again on Sunday evening, overcoming a few mental lapses to put away the Edmonton Oilers.
Brandon Saad deposited a bouncing puck in the first period to give the Hawks the lead, and the stat sheet was overwhelmed by Chicago. Edmonton only put six shots on net in the first 20 minutes, while the Hawks were credited with 11 shots.
In the second half of a back-to-back, up one against a struggling team, the Blackhawks came out of the dressing room and took the Oilers for granted. But a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal 54 seconds into the middle frame tied the game, and Nail Yakupov’s power play goal at 8:55 gave Edmonton the lead.
The Hawks had plenty of good chances in the first half of the second period, too. But extra passes cost them a few opportunities and the Oilers effectively took away angles when the Hawks skated out of position. Devan Dubnyk left a number of soft rebounds right in front of the net, but Chicago couldn’t cash in.
Until Brandon Saad made a play. Again.
Saad dug a puck out of the corner and threw it in front of the net, where Andrew Shaw was ready to put it home and tie the game late in the second period.
When the dust settled, the Hawks had out-shot the Oilers 13-10 but had opportunities to blow the game open and didn’t take advantage.
In the third, the Blackhawks finally put bodies in front of Dubnyk and were able to put a couple pucks past the struggling, soon-to-be-replaced netminder.Bryan Bickell parked himself in front of the net and scored 5:33 into the final frame, but the lead was short-lived.
David Perron scored a power play goal at 7:58 to once again tie the game as the Hawks had a rough night on special teams.
Edmonton scored on both of their power play opportunities, and added a short-handed goal late in the third. The Blackhawks had been perfect in November, killing the first nine penalties they faced to date. But on Sunday night, the Oilers scored on both of their chances with the advantage.
The Blackhawks scored twice in less than six minutes after Perron’s goal. Marcus Kruger, also in front of Dubnyk, received a pass from Ben Smith and a quick puck handle was enough for Dubnyk to open a gap for Kruger to abuse. It was Kruger’s second goal of the season.
Moments later, Duncan Keith scored a power play goal that would be the game-winner. It was Keith’s first of the season, and put an offensive number on another exceptional defensive performance.
Eberle would score the Oilers’ short-handed goal in the final 90 seconds of regulation, but that would end the offense for Edmonton.
The Blackhawks were as dominant at the dot as they have been all year. Jonathan Toews won 21 of 28 faceoffs to lead the effort, but every Blackhawks skater that took a draw won more than 50 percent of their faceoffs. Kruger won nine of 14, Brandon Pirri won seven of 12 and Shaw won 10 of 16 as the Hawks combined to win 50 of 73 in the game.
Saad led the Hawks with two points (one goal, one assist), one hit and two takeaways. Brent Seabrook was the only other Chicago player with a multi-point night, registering two assists with a team-leading four hits.
Pirri, Smith, Patrick Kane, Johnny Oduya, and Michael Rozsival also had assists in the game.
Late in the game, Rozsival was hit in the head with an errant puck while sitting on the bench. The Hawks’ medical team jumped into action, but he stayed down for a few moments before being helped to the dressing room for additional medical attention.
Brandon Bollig once again saw more ice time than Bickell, including 40 seconds of penalty kill duty. Bollig was credited with three hits in the game, while Bickell scored once and was credited with only one hit.
Corey Crawford allowed four goals against only 23 shots in the game, but earned another victory. He is now tied with Tampa’s Ben Bishop for the NHL lead with 11 wins.