The Chicago Blackhawks tuned up for a showdown in San Jose on Thursday by making short work of the NHL's worst team.
The Hawks got an easy goal by Jonathan Toews 44 seconds into the game and breezed to a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. Troy Brouwer, Dustin Byfuglien and Marian Hossa scored in the second period as Chicago improved to 4-2-0 on an eight-game trip that continues with a visit to the Shark Tank on Thursday. The Sharks lead the NHL with 78 points, two more than Chicago.
Chicago led 4-0 before allowing Fernando Pisani scored in the last minute of the second period. Ryan Potulny added a third-period goal for the 30th-place Oilers, who've dropped 11 in a row and didn't impress their coach.
"The final score flattered us," Pat Quinn said.
Some of the Hawks weren't all that impressed with their own effort, either.
"A win's a win," said Toews, Chicago's captain. "Hopefully we'll play with a lot more energy Thursday."
The Oilers (16-29-6) are in the midst of their worst losing streak since a 12-game skid three years ago. The franchise record for consecutive losses is 14, set in 1993. The Oilers have won once in their last 19 and just one of their last 15 at home.
"We're just not a very good team right now," captain Ethan Moreau said. "They are a very good team, and they just outplayed us."
The Hawks were up 1-0 before most of the sellout crowd knew what had happened. Toews beat Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers with a nothing-special wrister on the game's first shot.
It became 2-0 at 5:50 of the second when Patrick Kane circled the Oilers zone before finally dishing the puck to a wide-open Brouwer, who scored his 15th of the season. Byfuglien tipped in Duncan Keith's shot at 10:14, and Hossa hammered home a second rebound at 13:53 on the game's first power-play.
"We gave them too much," Pisani said. "We sat back. We didn't get the puck in deep. We didn't get their defenseman to have to go back to pick up the puck. When you make it an easy night on them, any team looks good out there. They're a very talented team. They move the puck well, and they have some very skilled players."
Pisani nudged home a puck in the crease at 19:20 to break up Cristobal Huet's shutout bid, and Potulny converted a pass from Patrick O'Sullivan at 5:44 of the third after a turnover by Niklas Hjalmarsson in the Hawks' zone. Huet made his best save in the final seconds when he dove to stop a wide-open chance by Dustin Penner.
"It was a 4-2 game, a dangerous game. They came at us in the third period," Quenneville said. "They had some opportunities."
Quinn could only look at the guys in the white shirts with admiration.
"They don't mess around," he said. "They don't (mess) with the principles of the game. If they have nothing, the puck goes behind you. They make you play defense. They make you go back for the puck -- all the simple things that good clubs do.
"We, on the other hand, when we had the puck -- in the second period for sure, we just gave it back to them. In the first period, we tried to create something but it wasn't smart offense. We didn't move the puck, we weren't tenacious in their zone. We didn't make them have to check us, and that's how it got to be 4-0."
With the win over the Oilers in the bank, Quenneville was willing to turn his attention to the showdown with the Sharks. The teams have split their first two meetings this season, with the road team winning both games.
"It's our biggest game up to this point," he said. "It sets up first place. It could be a very valuable game at the end of the season.
"We should be ready. They'll be ready to play."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report