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Hawks beat Oilers 5-2 with third-period blitz

by John Kreiser

Like a barrel rolling down a hill, the powerful Chicago Blackhawks eventually flattened the Edmonton Oilers.

The Hawks outshot the 30th-place Oilers 47-14, but needed third-period goals by Niklas Hjalmarsson, Dustin Byfuglien and Jonathan Toews to beat the Oilers 5-2 on Wednesday night for their fifth win in six games.

Chicago's dominance increased as the game progressed, helping the Hawks erase the taste of Tuesday's 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders in their first game after the Olympic break.

"The third period, that's the way we can be," said Toews, who skated on the gold medal-winning Canadian team and was selected the top forward in the Olympic tournament. "I think we got our legs.

"The last two nights, we've played two teams everybody expects you to beat. There are 20-some games left, and you've got to focus on what you can do, no matter who you're playing."

Marian Hossa, who played for Slovakia in Vancouver, added a goal and an assist as Chicago moved past San Jose into first place in the West. Both teams have 89 points in 63 games, but the Hawks have two more wins.

"Tonight I thought he had a special game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of Hossa. "Defensively, he was outstanding. He had the puck a lot."

It was the League-high 38th loss for the Oilers, who actually led 2-1 late in the second period on goals by Robert Nilsson and Shawn Horcoff before going down under a blizzard of shots and goals. The Oilers have dropped three in a row and seven of eight.

Edmonton made a pair of trades before the deadline Wednesday and skated with a largely inexperienced group of defensemen, including recent AHL callups Dean Arsene, Taylor Chorney, Theo Peckham and Johan Motin. Newcomer Ryan Whitney was unable to get to Chicago for the game; neither was Aaron Johnson, who was acquired from Calgary in a deal for veteran blueliner Steve Staios to Calgary.

"They kids did a pretty good job," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said. "We didn't put the puck at the net enough, and once that turnover game starts going it accentuates with the players who were playing in the minors and still learning their craft."

Though there were all kinds of rumors that the Hawks would make a deal to bring in a goaltender after the loss on Long Island, GM Stan Bowman stood pat. Cristobal Huet had to make just 12 saves to win in his first start in nearly a month. Huet got the loss against the Islanders after relieving Antti Niemi, who had made five straight starts for the Blackhawks.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called Huet's performance "OK."

"But this, him getting a win, will be helpful going forward," Quenneville added.

Huet, who faced just three shots in the third period, didn't want to read much into his victory.

"I don't want to look too far," he said. "I don't want to go to that No. 1 (goalie) talk, just go to the next game and have a chance to win."

At the other end of the ice, Edmonton rookie backup Devan Dubnyk stopped 42 shots. He was recalled from Springfield of the AHL on Monday after playing there during the Olympic break.

"You never want to give up five goals, but I felt pretty good about my game," Dubnyk said. "I'll have a look back at the tape and go from there. It's something to build on."

Hossa put Chicago ahead 1-0 during a 4-on-4 at 3:26 of the second when he ripped in a high shot from the top of the left circle. But Nilsson and Horcoff scored a 52-second span late in the second gave Edmonton a 2-1 lead.

Nilsson jammed the puck under Huet from the edge of the crease with 4:29 left in the second after Sam Gagner had driven to the net. Horcoff beat Huet with a screened shot from the top of the slot with 3:37 left in the period.

Dave Bolland tied it 2-2 with 1:57 remaining in the second when he batted in a loose puck from the left side of the net. The play was set up by Hossa, who intercepted a pass from Edmonton defenseman Tom Gilbert.

Hjalmarsson scored on a screened shot from the left point 20 seconds into the third to give Chicago a 3-2 lead. It was only his second goal this season, and first since Oct. 17.

Byfuglien made it 4-2 with a power-play goal midway through the third when he tucked in a shot from the edge of the crease. Toews added insurance when he beat Dubnyk from the right circle with 3:44 remaining.

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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