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Panarin, Kane lead Blackhawks past Oilers

by Brian Hedger /

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks got strong efforts from their second line and goalie Corey Crawford, in a 4-2 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at United Center on Sunday.

Crawford made 34 saves in a bounce-back performance after a tough start at the New Jersey Devils on Friday, including 22 in a hectic second period. The Blackhawks' reunited second line produced all four goals.

Artemi Panarin, a 23-year old Russian rookie left wing, had two goals and an assist. Center Artem Anisimov scored a power-play goal with six seconds remaining to seal the win. Right wing Patrick Kane had a goal and three assists to extend his NHL-leading point streak to 10 games and tie the Dallas Stars' Tyler Seguin for the League lead with 23 points (10 goals).

"That group together has been fun to watch," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who put Panarin on the top line for a couple of games looking for scoring balance. "Tonight, I'm sure they were happy to be back together again, and got it going right off the hop. So, it was a good night for that line, and they continue to be, a lot of nights, the only form of production we're getting."

Panarin scored his first goal since Oct. 10 just 58 seconds into the game. He made it 2-0 at 17:35 of the first period to give the Blackhawks (8-6-1) an early two-goal cushion, helping Chicago improve to 7-1-1 at home after coming into the game with four losses in its previous five games.

Crawford played a key role. After allowing nine goals in his past two starts and being pulled after the first period at New Jersey on Friday, he was flawless in the second period against Edmonton (5-10-0), stopping all 22 shots he faced.

"That one felt pretty good," Crawford said. "I kind of struggled in the last couple games. I wanted to come back strong, especially when your coach gives you the net again. You want to prove him right, do well for him. I felt a lot better. I was seeing the puck well."

Cam Talbot didn't track the puck as well as he did in Chicago on March 8, when he shut out the Blackhawks for the New York Rangers in a 1-0 overtime win. Talbot, acquired by the Oilers in June, made 24 saves but didn't have the same level of help defensively in the first or third.

Panarin opened the scoring with a goal off a one-timer from the lower left circle, then scored again with a wrist shot over Talbot's glove. Kane got the primary assist on each goal, then scored his 10th of the season to make it 3-1 at 13:28 of the third, after Jordan Eberle cut Chicago's lead to 2-1. He capped his four-point night by setting up Anisimov's power-play goal.

"It seems like with our team right now, we have to get the garbage out or fall behind and then play from there," Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said. "Some of that has a lot to do, or at least I believe a lot to do, with our belief system. We have to believe that we can play against these types of teams. We fall behind and then we got nothing to lose, so we go and we play hard, but that has to happen right off the bat and I think that's mental."

Down 2-0. the Oilers came out flying in the second period and controlled puck possession. They outshot Chicago 22-6, held the puck in the offensive zone for long stretches and didn't allow a shot to reach Talbot until 10:17. Edmonton was outshooting Chicago 14-0 by that point.

"We really bounced back in the second," Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "If we scored in the second, I think it would've been a little different."

That didn't happen because Crawford was superb. He turned away several rapid-fire scoring chances with pad saves; each one helped rebuild his confidence.

Crawford wasn't thrilled about allowing goals to Eberle and defenseman Andrej Sekera in the third, but overall it was a big victory for him.

It was more of a relief for Panarin, who'd gone 11 games without scoring a goal.

"The first couple of games I played, I had the same confidence that I have right now," Panarin said through the interpretation of forward Viktor Tikhonov. "[I] played a couple games not so well and started thinking about things that were outside of my control. I was a little embarrassed about my game. I was talking with the guys. The guys came up and told me I needed to relax a little bit, trust in myself, and remember that I'm a good player."

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