The Chicago Blackhawks talked prior to Sunday night’s game about the challenge that is the Edmonton Oilers.
Forget the Oilers’ record: Once they face the Blackhawks, it rarely seems to matter. And it was close to not mattering again on Sunday. But the Blackhawks, who are on an offensive surge right now, tapped into that to fend off the Western Canadian thorn in their side.
Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist, and Duncan Keith’s first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner as the Blackhawks beat the Oilers, 5-4, at the United Center. It was another tough one against Edmonton, which, as coach Joel Quenneville put it, is “a team that enjoys playing us and has had some success.” But the Blackhawks, who have been finding their offensive on a regular basis lately, found more of it on Sunday.
“We’re just sticking with our game,” said Bryan Bickell, who scored his fifth of the season early in the third. “The first couple of periods we were frustrated. We were OK, but we had another level. In the third period, we picked it up. We’re happy to get the two points. I know these guys have a great track record against us.”
“I know one thing: They get excited playing our team,” he said of the Oilers. “Everyone gets on the scoresheet. We’ve had some real tough nights. At the end of the day we want to win, but we want to play the right way. Sometimes we get away (from) how we traditionally play.”
Indeed, the Oilers seem to turn into bulls eyeing a red cape whenever they face the Blackhawks. Their power play got the best of the Blackhawks tonight, going 2-for-2 and giving them life and a 3-3 tie in the third period. But it was the Blackhawks’ own power play that proved to be the difference, when Keith’s long-distance shot got through Devan Dubnyk for the eventual game-winner.
“We’re just happy to get wins and get points,” said Keith, who has at least a point in six of his last seven games. “But we always want to keep getting better and take positives every game.”
Brent Seabrook had two assists. Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 23 shots for the victory. Crawford also stopped a Sam Gagner penalty shot, and he’s now 8-for-8 in his career in that category.
The Blackhawks would’ve liked to give up fewer goals. They would’ve liked to stay cleaner on their penalty kill. But they’re more than happy with their offensive output in recent games. The team that was struggling to score through most of October now has 14 goals in its last three games, and they’re getting them from everyone. Marcus Kruger and Andrew Shaw also scored for the Blackhawks.
“Our offense was awesome again tonight. We scored another five goals, and that definitely won us the game,” Crawford said. “It’s a dangerous game when the away team hangs around. But it’s a big win for us.”
The Blackhawks’ patience helped in holding off an Oilers team that’s tested them in recent years. Five more goals, and from five different players, don’t hurt either.
“The first couple weeks, first month, we were winning 3-2 and 2-1. Now it’s the opposite,” Bickell said. “It’s nice to get the offense, but it’s not always going to be like that. We have to play defense first, and the offense will come.”