Hawks doubled up in Edmonton

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Hawks doubled up in Edmonton

EDMONTON, Alberta The Blackhawks talked Wednesday and Thursday morning about getting even against the Oilers up here. They heard the chants of Lets get 10 during their 9-2 loss here in November and didnt like it.

But for all the talk before the game, not much changed during it.

Corey Crawford was pulled in the third period and Sam Gagner tied a franchise record with eight points as the Chicago Blackhawks fell to the Edmonton Oilers 8-4 at Rexall Place. The Blackhawks are now 0-3-1 in their last four, as they failed to gain any ground in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.

Gagner was just part of the problem for the Blackhawks, who were once again victimized by the Oilers. Crawford allowed a few bad ones, including a Cam Barker goal, before he was pulled. Ray Emery didnt fare much better, allowing three on 13 shots. It was another night where team defense disintegrated against an Oilers team all too anxious to take advantage.

Forget about payback, forget about all that stuff. It doesnt matter how we win the game; we just didnt do the right things at all, Jonathan Toews said. Again, it was an easy game for tier top players. We let them do whatever they wanted, tap-ins left and right and we hung our goaltenders out to dry.

Patrick Sharp, who scored two goals for the Blackhawks, concurred.

Yeah, forget payback and all that stuff, he said. We wanted to come out and play a good game and talked all season long what makes us a good team is playing a defense-first, check-first mentality. Thats how we create scoring chances. We did that to start the game but somewhere along the line we got away from it.

Crawford, coming off a strong game in Vancouver on Tuesday night, bore much of the onus for this one.

Our guys deserved better than me, he said. I dont know what happened. Its frustrating. Everyone here is pissed off.

His first goal, to Taylor Hall, wasnt a good one to give up. The Blackhawks were up 2-0 at the time and had much of the momentum.

We did some good things until they scored the first goal and then we got out of what we wanted to do, coach Joel Quenneville said. They like to score, they like to go off the rush, they like to attack and we cant play that way. We have to be more patient. They played run and gun and they were better than us by a long margin.

The ripple effect was evident. Team defense broke down and the Blackhawks didnt help themselves by continually going to the penalty box -- Edmonton had seven power plays, scoring on one.

We have to play together. We have to play all along the same page. When we start thinking about trying to outscore teams it backfires, said Duncan Keith. Good teams, when they lose games theyre in every game. We were in this one (early), but once we get up a goal or two we start forgetting how to play.

The Blackhawks have talked about playing a team game all season. When they do, theyre tough to beat. And at this time of the season especially, they need that again.

Blackhawks agree to terms with Nathan Noel on entry-level contract

Blackhawks agree to terms with Nathan Noel on entry-level contract

The Blackhawks strengthened their organizational depth Thursday, announcing the signing of forward Nathan Noel to a three-year entry-level contract that kicks in next season and runs through the 2019-20 campaign. 

Noel, a fourth-round draft pick (No. 113 overall) in 2016, tied a career high with 24 goals — including six game winners — and added 26 assists for 50 points in 52 games during his fourth regular season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was sidelined for a little more than a month in December and January due to an upper-body injury.

The 19-year-old center has raised his game in the postseason, racking up eight goals and 18 assists in 33 games from 2015-17, including six assists in 12 contests so far during the 2017 QMJHL playoffs. Across four years at Saint John, he amassed 208 points (85 goals, 123 assists) in 242 career regular-season games.

Noel is teammates with forward Matthew Highmore, who leads the Sea Dogs in scoring and was signed by the Blackhawks in March to a three-year deal as an undrafted free agent.

Noel is an undersized forward at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, but he's a fast skater with offensive upside. He'll likely start the 2017-18 season in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs, who desperately needed scoring last year. 

Blackhawks' Nick Schmaltz added to USA's roster for 2017 IIHF World Championship

Blackhawks' Nick Schmaltz added to USA's roster for 2017 IIHF World Championship

Nick Schmaltz will be joining Blackhawks teammate Trevor van Riemsdyk on Team USA at the 2017 IIHF World Championship, the club announced Thursday.

It will be his first career appearance on the U.S. men's national team and third time representing his country in world-championship play, most recently winning a bronze medal at the 2016 World Juniors. He scored two goals and added six assists in seven games during that tournament.

Schmaltz just completed his first professional season with the Blackhawks, where he tallied six goals and 22 assists in 61 games. 

After the year ended, he spoke about the possibility of playing for USA in this tournament and what it would mean to him.

"I think it's a great tournament," Schmaltz said. "You get to play with a lot of great players. Look like a lot of great players are going to the tournament, so it's definitely a big stage. It would be a fun tournament."

The roster now includes 13 forwards, seven defensemen and three goaltenders. Among the other NHLers going for the Americans: Danny DeKeyser, Noah Hanifin, Jimmy Howard, Dylan Larkin, Anders Lee, Charlie McAvoy, Connor Murphy, Brock Nelson and Jacob Trouba.

Blackhawks forwards Marcus Kruger (Sweden) and Artemi Panarin (Russia) will also compete in the tournament, which begins May 5 and runs until May 21 in Cologne, Germany and Paris, France.