The Blackhawks’ top line showed up in a big way and Corey Crawford had yet another dominant performance as the Chicago shutout the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 on Thursday night.
Only five minutes in, the dynamics of the game almost changed dramatically. Niklas Hjalmarsson took a shot off the inside of his knee and went down hard. He needed to be helped off the ice and went straight to the room in a great deal of pain.
But, as he almost always does, Hjalmarsson returned later in the period.
As the first period progressed, Jonathan Toews opened the scoring – with the game-winning goal – after receiving a dirty saucer pass from Marian Hossa and rifling a shot past Oilers starter Cam Talbot. The goal, Toews’ tenth of the year, was only the beginning of a huge night for a line that had been too quiet in recent weeks.
In the second, Teuvo Teravainen received a nice pass from Toews and put home his seventh of the season. Hossa knocked him on his backside after the goal but the trio was able to laugh about it as they skated to the bench to celebrate extending to a 2-0 lead.
The third saw a great deal of up-and-down hockey but Crawford was able to withstand the pressure. Teravainen scored his second of the night and eighth of the season with 3:18 left in regulation to put the game away. When Artemi Panarin added his tenth of the year less than two minutes later, the game was out of reach and victory was without a doubt.
Toews, Hossa and Teravainen were rightfully the game’s three stars as the line had three points each. Toews won 10 of 16 faceoffs and Hossa led the team with five shots on net. Hossa also blocked two shots and was credited with two hits with his three assists in a magnificent all-around game.
Marcus Kruger disappeared to the room after going into the boards and wasn’t needed down the stretch. He was limited to only eight shifts and just 4:25 in the game; the Blackhawks stayed out of the penalty box, so Kruger wasn’t needed on special teams throughout the game.
Crawford made 33 saves in another shutout. He has now allowed only four goals in his last six starts, three of which have ended with his opponent failing to score. With his fifth of the season, Crawford established a new career high for shutouts – and we’re a week away from Christmas.
Patrick Kane picked up the second assist on Panarin’s goal.
On Saturday night the Blackhawks will be tested as they travel to visit the Buffalo Sabres, who shut out the Ducks 3-0 on Thursday.