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Hawks drub Oilers, win sixth straight at Edmonton

by Robin Brownlee
EDMONTON -- A visit to Rexall Place was the perfect tonic for the struggling Chicago Blackhawks.

The Hawks arrived in Edmonton for Wednesday's games after losses at Vancouver and Calgary -- and left with a 4-1 win, their sixth in a row in Edmonton. Patrick Kane had two goals and Patrick Sharp and Bryan Bickell also scored as the Hawks evened their record at 2-2-0 on a six-game road trip. They had lost four of five before polishing off the Oilers, who remained last in the overall standings.

Not that they felt the win came easily.

"Teams, whether they're coming into our rink or playing us on the road, they want to play us hard because we're the defending champs," Bickell said. "Every night is going to be a battle out there, like a playoff game."

Corey Crawford made 23 saves and allowed only a late goal as the Hawks remained perfect in Edmonton since Feb. 6, 2008. Chicago remained tied with Los Angeles, one point behind Minnesota for the last playoff berth in the West.

"We've had tough games all year," said Crawford, who was bidding for his fourth career shutout when Eberle beat him. "Every team has been at their best, or almost at their best, when we play them."

Devan Dubnyk, who stopped 37 shots to record his first NHL shutout in a 4-0 win at Nashville on Monday, didn't get a lot of help from his teammates as the Oilers lost their fifth straight game at home, dropping to 7-15-4 at Rexall Place.

Had Dubnyk not been especially sharp early, the score wouldn't have been nearly as flattering.

"We just came out really flat," Sam Gagner said. "The difference between Nashville and tonight is that we took penalties while we were trying to find our way.

"They were able to score some goals and we had to dig ourselves out of a hole. It's hard to get momentum when you're in the box like we were tonight. Devan played great for us. We weren't good enough for him."

As was the case in Nashville, the Oilers spent most of the first period against Chicago on their heels in front of Dubnyk.

Chicago directed 22 shots at Dubnyk -- firing seven off the mark and having others five blocked. The Oilers were lucky Dubnyk got them to the first intermission down just 1-0 after Sharp took a pass from Jonathan Toews and notched his 27th at 10:41.

The Blackhawks got a lucky bounce on Bickell's goal 5:14 into the second period. The Oilers had possession in Chicago's end, but a pass by Taylor Hall intended for Jeff Petry at the point hopped over his stick. Bickell darted past Petry, broke in alone and tucked a backhand behind Dubnyk.

Kane made it 3-0 early in the third period as Chicago's top-ranked power play ended a 0-for-15 drought spanning three games when he snapped a Tomas Kopecky pass behind Dubnyk.

Eberle spoiled Crawford's shutout bid, but Kane hit the empty net for the final margin.

"That was a big two points," Crawford said. "I don't think we could afford to lose this one. We played well."

In a trade announced during the pre-game skate, Chicago dealt right winger Jack Skille to the Florida Panthers for forward Michael Frolik as part of a five-player swap. Also headed to Florida are forwards Hugh Jessiman and David Pacan. The Blackhawks also get goaltender Alexander Salak, who's playing in Sweden.
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