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THREE THINGS: Almost 60, the PK and Crawford

Three takeaways from Chicago's first win of the season, 3-1 over Edmonton

by Chris Kuc @ChrisKuc / Blackhawks.com

Patrick Kane, Alex Nylander and Brandon Saad scored and Corey Crawford was strong in goal as the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 on Monday night at the United Center.

The victory was the Blackhawks first of the season as they upped their record to 1-2-1.

"It's just nice to get that first one and try to build off that," Crawford said of the win. "We played really well. I think everyone was going. Guys were coming back to help out defensively and (it was) just a good team effort."

Meanwhile, the Oilers dropped their first game after opening the season with five consecutive wins.

"It's a nice challenge for sure if someone is coming in undefeated or on a streak," Crawford said. "We're just happy to get that one."

Here are three takeways:


'ALMOST 60'

After struggling in the second periods of each of their first three games, the Blackhawks turned that around against the Oilers. Following a crisp opening period that ended scoreless, the Blackhawks came out flying in the second and outshot the Oilers 17-6, including Kane's second goal of the season.

"The message (Monday) from the coaches was how much better we need to be in the second," defenseman Connor Murphy said. "We showed examples of when we've done that in the past and what it takes. We were just better at staying on our toes and we drew some penalties and got on the forecheck quick and kept their goalie from being able to make plays and for them to be able to come up ice."

The Blackhawks kept coming in the third and put the Oilers away on the scores by Nylander and Saad, along with Crawford's stellar play.

Coach Jeremy Colliton said the Blackhawks played "almost 60 (minutes)" and that the second period was "exactly what we were looking for. (It) really turned the game.

"We did a lot of winning things," Colliton added. "We were clean with the puck. I thought our support, we really found a way to get available. We were heavy on the puck. So a lot of 50-50 situations where we're under pressure, we didn't allow ourselves to get stripped, we just kept moving it ahead. We won lines. We got it deep. We changed in the offensive zone multiple times. We had great forecheck pressure. We had great back pressure. All of these things are just little ingredients, but when you do them shift in and shift out you really build momentum.

"We put pressure on them throughout the period," Colliton continued. "You don't always get rewarded right away, but typically you do and it wears them down for the rest of the game too. That's something we haven't done. Again, it's a big part of the league-how you play in the second period." 

Video: Blackhawks top Oilers for first win of season


KILLING TIME

The Blackhawks much-maligned penalty kill came up big against the Oilers. Chicago entered the game ranked 29th in the NHL with 60.0 kill percentage and the Oilers had the league's second-best power play at 41.2 percent. The Blackhawks shut down the Oilers high-flying power play on all but one of Edmonton's three man advantages, allowing only James Neal's goal while skating 6-on-4 late in the game.

"We knew they were trying to work those one-timers from our right side and they were trying to feed them into the slot and throw them cross-ice," Murphy said. "We just had awareness of that and had good sticks."

Video: Saad, Colliton on Crawford's strong night


CRAWFORD STRONG IN GOAL

Crawford got his third start of the season and Robin Lehner, despite putting together a strong effort against the Jets on Saturday, served as his backup.

Crawford made 27 saves, including several highlight-reel stops. Early in the opening period, Crawford stoned Leon Draisaitl on a breakaway to keep the game scoreless and in the third denied Zack Kassian from in close.

"I saw the puck a little bit more than last game, but they were throwing a lot to the net and just crashing the net," Crawford said. "(It was) a little bit different type of play from their team, more rush, more speed stuff."

Said Colliton of Crawford: "He looked sharp as ever. He was really good. That team has some weapons so they had some opportunities and he was there and just he's under control. It's something I've said about him before, he really gives the team confidence."

Colliton said, "we have a bit of a plan" for the goaltenders going forward but declined to reveal it.

"The reason I don't want to go out with it is the plan can change," Colliton said. "That's life. But both goalies are aware that we need them both, and we need them both playing at a high level. And that's part of why we manage it the way we do. We want both guys going."

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