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Blackhawks top Oilers despite allowing odd goal

by Brian Hedger

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane watched helplessly as the puck he'd just shot off the boards kept sliding down the ice toward his team’s vacated net on a delayed penalty.

He even leaned a little to his left, seemingly hoping to will the puck wide of the empty net. Instead, it eventually went in, leaving Kane with his hand over his head in disbelief and the Edmonton Oilers tied 2-2 with his Chicago Blackhawks a bit past the midway point of the game Sunday night at United Center.

The embarrassing mistake could've been disastrous for the Blackhawks, who came into the game on a three-game winless streak. Instead, Chicago won 5-3 and Kane's "empty-net goal" was soon the subject of good-natured ribbing by teammates.

"I think there [were] a few jabs after the second period, but nothing too crazy," said Kane, who had two assists. "[It was] just things like I had a goal and two assists tonight instead of just two assists. It's funny, you know, you're trying to score for your team and you end up putting one in the net for the other team. It's pretty crazy how that happens."

It took 31 seconds for Marian Hossa to erase Kane's own goal with a one-timer that beat Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk during the ensuing 5-on-3 power play.

Captain Jonathan Toews added his 17th goal at 17:32 of the second for a 4-2 lead, and Brent Seabrook matched Taylor Hall's goal for Edmonton in the third period to provide the final score.

"We can’t, especially against the good teams, we can’t watch them play," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "You’re going to get killed. I thought we caught a great break on that crazy second goal, and then we went out and couldn’t kill that 5-on-3. It was right then, now you’re chasing it against a good team again. You’re very rarely going to fare well doing that.”

Chicago (30-8-10) swept the three-game season series against the Oilers (15-28-5), scoring five goals in each game. Ben Smith and Andrew Shaw also scored for Chicago, which got another solid outing in net by rookie Antti Raanta, who made 18 saves to earn his 12th win.

Hossa (one goal, one assist) recorded two points on his 35th birthday, becoming the third Blackhawks player this season to score a goal on his birthday.

Dubnyk made 36 saves in falling to 2-8-0 against Chicago for his career. Ales Hemsky and Hall beat Raanta for goals, and Boyd Gordon was credited with the goal that Kane shot into Chicago's net, even though he wasn't on the ice.

The Oilers, who beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in overtime Friday night, have only beaten the Blackhawks once the past two seasons. After struggling against Edmonton for two seasons following their 2010 Stanley Cup championship, the Blackhawks are now 5-1-0 against Edmonton in the past six meetings.

"We made it pretty easy on them," Hall said. "Against a team like that, they’re going to make you pay. They had a lot of chances tonight. We got lucky with that own goal by them that kept us in the game, but for the most part, it wasn’t an effort like the other night against Pittsburgh."

Chicago's recent slump was the bigger story prior to the game.

It seemed to continue early in the first, when Edmonton made it 1-0 at 6:08. After a nice pass through the neutral zone by Jeff Petry, Hemsky beat the Chicago defense wide and then tucked a backhand shot inside the far post for his seventh goal.

It was the fourth straight game and the fifth time in their past six that the Blackhawks allowed the game's first goal.

Chicago also hadn't scored a first-period goal in five games in January to that point. Smith put an end to the dry spell eight minutes later. He tied the game at 1-1 at 14:26 with his sixth goal, which he tipped from the high slot off a long wrister launched from the blue line by Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Shaw, who centered Kane and Brandon Saad on the second line, gave Chicago a 2-1 lead at 2:36 of the second with a high wrist shot from the left circle that beat Dubnyk over the glove-side shoulder. It was his 12th goal, first since Dec. 28 and second in 14 games.

"We felt coming into tonight that we were going to have a lot of goals scored, but against a team like Edmonton, you've got to watch it," Shaw said. "They can score goals and they can feed off that emotion, but I think [we] played amazing."

Shaw nearly scored again about three minutes later, but a nice left-pad save by Dubnyk kept the Oilers within a goal. That led to the odd play by Kane, which happened with Edmonton shorthanded during a delayed penalty called on Dubnyk for slashing Shaw.

Kane took a short pass from Toews below the goal line in the Edmonton zone and flipped the puck off the boards toward the point, but there was not a point man there to stop it. The puck slid all the way down the ice toward the vacated Chicago net, with Oilers center Mark Arcobello escorting it until it crossed the goal line.

Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy tried chasing it down, but his effort was in vain. Replays showed that Gordon wasn't on the ice at the time and the puck last hit the skate of rookie Martin Marincin, who might get his first career goal in odd fashion if the scoring is changed.

It didn't take long for Kane to help make up for his mistake. He picked up his second assist of the game on Hossa's goal and looked relieved after the Blackhawks had secured the win.

"At one point I thought it was stopping and Arcobello was just going to touch it and the play would be over, and it picked up speed and just kept going," Kane said. "We've seen some fluky plays like that. It's one of those things that happens, and when you score right after, it takes it off your mind."

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