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Roy leads Oilers past Blackhawks

by Derek Van Diest /

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers believe they are a better team under new coach Todd Nelson, and they played like one in a 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at Rexall Place on Friday.

The win gave Edmonton at least a point in five of the six games Nelson has coached exclusively (3-1-2) since Dallas Eakins was fired on Dec. 15. Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish accompanied Nelson on the bench for five games following Eakins' dismissal.

"We're starting to gel a lot as a team," Oilers left wing Taylor Hall said. "When we get down, we come together, we don't try to do too much individually, we're starting to play like that and it's helping out a lot. It's a nice little stretch for us. A win is a win, no matter where it is in the season. And when you're winning against a team like Chicago it's even better."

Derek Roy led Edmonton with a goal and two assists. Benoit Pouliot, Jeff Petry, Nail Yakupov and Hall also scored for the Oilers, who lost 7-1 to Chicago at Rexall Place on Nov. 22.

Goaltender Ben Scrivens made 19 saves for his first win in three career decisions against Chicago (1-2-0). Backup goalie Antti Raanta made 17 saves for Chicago.

"They played a good game, but we had all the chances we needed to win this game tonight," Raanta said. "I've played better games myself. You have to make the saves when the team needs you. You have to stay big and make the big saves and win the game, but today wasn't that day. It was a bad loss for us."

Brandon Saad scored twice for Chicago (27-13-2), which was playing on back-to-back nights after a 4-2 win at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Saad put the Blackhawks up 1-0 at 7:34 of the first period, breaking out with Marian Hossa on a 2-on-1 rush after Oilers defenseman Nikita Nikitin lost possession of the puck at the Chicago blue line. Scrivens stopped Hossa's shot but the rebound fell to Saad, who put it into the open net.

The Oilers tied it at 8:52 on a power-play goal by Pouliot, capitalizing on a turnover behind the Blackhawks net.

"They worked hard and they have a lot of skill," Saad said. "That's what happens when you don't play your best against them."

Roy put Edmonton up 2-1 at 13:35 on the power play, finishing off a passing play started by Anton Lander in the Blackhawks' zone. Lander fired a cross-ice pass to Teddy Purcell, who found a streaking Roy in front. Roy tipped Purcell's pass in over Raanta for his third goal of the season and second with the Oilers since being acquired in a trade from the Nashville Predators on Dec. 29.

Saad tied the game 5:47 into the second period on a goal similar to his first. He and Hossa broke out on a 2-on-1 against defenseman Mark Fayne. Hossa's shot was stopped, but Saad got the rebound and beat Scrivens.

However, Petry put Edmonton ahead to stay 46 seconds later, getting to a rebound in front following a shot from Yakupov and lifting the puck over Raanta for his fourth of the season.

"We gave up a couple of funny goals tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We were in a good spot when it was 2-2 and that third one they got was a tough one. We were pressing in the third, but they were checking better with the lead than what we had seen prior. That's what happens. We had enough chances tonight. The timing of the goals they scored was tough."

Edmonton put the game away with two goals in a 43-second span late in the third period. Yakupov scored on a 2-on-0 breakaway at 16:51 taking the puck himself and lifting a backhand over Raanta. The goal was Yakupov's first in 15 games.

"I thought [Yakupov] was very good tonight on both sides of the puck," Nelson said. "He contributed offensively it was nice to see him score. He did a lot of really good things tonight, I was really happy with his game.

"He got in hard on the forecheck. We faced a team that played a lot of hockey in the last few days so we wanted to establish a forecheck and Nail did that and created that turnover [on first goal]."

Hall scored into an empty net at 17:34 to secure the win.

"It's fun to win," Hall said. "It does make you forget about what place you are in the standings for a couple of days. We need that. We need to be a relaxed group. For us, winning helps out a lot with that."

The Oilers conclude a four-game homestand Sunday against the Florida Panthers. The Blackhawks host the Wild on Sunday.

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