On Saturday night, Nikolai Khabibulin didn’t feel well enough to start against his former team.
Maybe he had a bad back. Maybe he remembered fighting nearly 40 shots in Chicago. Maybe he watched the Hawks put seven goals on Mikka Kipprusoff on Thursday. No matter the reason, the Bulin Wall had fallen.
So a 25-year old with six career starts was asked to play between the Oilers’ pipes on Saturday night against the hottest team in the entire NHL. As you might expect, that didn’t go too well.
The Oilers came out of the gates hitting as hard and as often as they could, obviously trying to rattle the Blackhawks’ cage. It didn’t work. After Bryan Bickell landed on his head after hitting Dustin Penner, the scoring was on. The Hawks stormed out to a 3-1 lead after one and it didn’t get close for the Oilers from there.
Penner was the total of the Oilers’ offense, scoring both goals and really being their only effective player against the Hawks defense. On the other side, Jonathan Toews scored two goals and assisted on another as the Hawks again won with a balanced attack, strong defense and excellent work in the net.
Cristobal Huet stopped 25 of 27 shots, 11 of which came in a desperate flurry from Edmonton in the third period. The Hawks’ power play was again effective, scoring on one of their two chances, while the Hawks once again didn’t give up dumb penalties and killed the oppositions chances when they did; Penner’s goal to begin the third period was with a man advantage, but the Hawks only had to kill one other power play the entire game.
Patrick Kane has scored in every game he’s played as a 21-year old, putting in a gorgeous goal and also notching an assist on Saturday night. Kris Versteeg and John Madden also scored goals for the Hawks, while Brian Campbell had two assists in the game.
Saturday was the Hawks’ sixth straight win, and the team extended one of the best starts to a season of any team in Blackhawks history. The annual Circus Trip is sox games, and the Hawks had hoped to win four; they’re half way to their goal after just two games.