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Blackhawks hand Oilers sixth straight loss

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers are heading in opposite directions.

The Blackhawks extended their winning streak to three games with a 7-1 victory against the Oilers at Rexall Place on Saturday.

The loss extended the Oilers' losing streak to a season-high six games. They also have a five-game and a four-game losing streak this season and are 0-10-1 against Western Conference opponents.

Jonathan Toews had two goals and Marcus Kruger, Kris Versteeg, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane also scored for the Blackhawks, who have won five of their past six games.

"It was a fun game at the beginning when we got the offense going, especially against this team because they have had our number and done similar things to us a couple years ago," said Hossa, who also had three assists. "It is nice to get them back. We had a great effort overall."

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 24 saves for his eighth win of the season. Goalie Antti Raanta was scheduled to make the start for Chicago, but fell ill prior to the game.

"You have to be ready for anything," Crawford said. "I have learned throughout the years that anything can happen. It didn't really change anything with my preparation.

"I felt we were solid all around tonight. We worked hard and made the right plays to get our chances and finished it off with a bunch of skill. It was a good game for us."

Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens was pulled in the second period after giving up five goals on 13 shots. Viktor Fasth stopped 12 shots in relief. David Perron scored the lone goal for Edmonton.

"That's about as long a game as I can ever remember, since I played pro hockey or coached," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We come out there, the Chicago Blackhawks are here, our players were energized, our fans were energized, they dropped the puck and there was great energy on the ice. But when the first two shots go in the net, that will suck the life out of a team that has been struggling and trying to get through this."

Toews opened the scoring 3:48 into the first period on Chicago's first shot, converting on a 2-on-1 rush with Brandon Saad. The Blackhawks captain took a pass from Saad and slipped the puck between Scrivens' pads.

Kruger scored on the Blackhawks' second shot at 4:43, getting the puck at the top of the faceoff circle and snapping a shot over the shoulder of Scrivens.

Toews made it 3-0 Chicago at 15:56, on the Blackhawks' fifth shot of the game, tipping a Brent Seabrook point shot past Scrivens.

"We decided to stick with Ben and we're not going to pin this one on our goalies," Eakins said. "This is a team game and we should have been better in front of both of those guys and we weren't.

"There were thoughts of making the change after the second goal, and not so much on Ben, but getting our team going, slow the game down, whatever it is. But it's always hindsight. That was a call that had, for me, not a lot to do with those guys but the group as a whole."

Versteeg increased the lead to 4-0 at 1:16 of the second period on the power play. The Blackhawks right wing took a cross-crease pass and let go a sharp-angled shot that Scrivens inadvertently kicked towards his net and Oilers defensemen Andrew Ference put in while trying to clear it.

Hossa scored the Blackhawks' fifth goal at 2:45 of the second on the power play, which chased Scrivens, who was replaced by Fasth. The goal snapped a nine-game drought for Hossa.

"After nine games without scoring, it is always a relief to get one," Hossa said. "I have felt good on the ice of late and haven't really been worried about not scoring, as long as I am playing my game. It obviously feels nice to get a goal after a long time."

Keith made it 6-0 at 3:50 on the second shot directed at Fasth, firing a shot from the left circle over the latter's shoulder.

At 8:04 of the third period, Perron ruined Crawford's shutout bid, tipping a Justin Schultz point shot into the net. Kane made it 7-1 at 10:58, converting a pass from Versteeg on a 2-on-1 rush.

"We had that great start tonight and that was the difference," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's an excellent start to our road trip. I like the way we have played and the way we are getting our four-line rotation. We have got some momentum going right now."

The Blackhawks continue their annual circus road trip Sunday at the Vancouver Canucks. The Oilers begin a three-game road trip Tuesday at the Dallas Stars.

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