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GAME STORY: Blackhawks 3, Oilers 1

Chicago ends Edmonton's historic season-opening win streak as Crawford stops 27 of 28 between the pipes

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

CHICAGO, IL - Edmonton's historic win streak to start the season came to an end on Monday as they were defeated 3-1 by the Chicago Blackhawks to conclude their four-game road trip.

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The Oilers return home for a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. The game can be seen on Sportsnet 360 and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:38 p.m. MDT.

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Corey Crawford stopped 27 of 28 Oilers shots he faced while the Blackhawks got goals Patrick Kane, Alexander Nylander and Brandon Saad to secure their first win of the season, dropping Edmonton's record to 5-1-0.

"You've got to give them credit, they played a hard game and were a desperate team," said Head Coach Dave Tippett. "They were looking for their first win, so they played a hard game. But we had some chances and some of our better chances we didn't capitalize on. We either missed the net or Crawford made big saves."

The Oilers set an NHL record with five straight come-from-behind wins to start the season, but after spotting Chicago a 2-0 cushion they couldn't quite flash their resilience for a sixth time and suffered their first defeat.

"It's tough to win games when you give them the first goal all the time," said Oscar Klefbom, who played 23:30 on Monday,

"We knew it was a matter of time. We have to be ready when the puck drops and it's something we've got to improve. It's still early. We all were very happy with 5-0, but it's not good enough to give up the first goal all the time."

It may have been Canadian Thanksgiving but there were no turkey legs for either side on Monday as both the Oilers and Blackhawks burst into the opening frame with some fast-paced play.

With 14:09 on the clock, Leon Draisaitl got the best chance of the early stages with a partial breakaway, but his forehand wrister was turned aside by Crawford's blocker.

Connor McDavid made his way in alone on Crawford a few minutes later, but the Oilers captain fanned on his shot a bit allowing the Chicago netminder to make another important denial.

Video: Blackhawks top Oilers for first win of season

The Oilers generated a pair of power plays in the final six minutes of the period as Dominik Kubalik went off for high-sticking and Andrew Shaw got caught holding, but the visitors were unable to convert with the man advantage.

Edmonton outshot Chicago 12-10 through the opening 20 minutes, with Mike Smith making some impressive saves between the Oilers pipes as well.

The Blackhawks dominated the early stages of the middle frame and were rewarded with the game's first goal when Kane whistled a wrist shot to the back of the net after a Dylan Strome faceoff win in the offensive zone. Coming off a 110-point season, Kane collected his second goal and fifth point of 2019-20 with the opening tally.

The home side continued to control the play in the second and earned a pair of power plays of their own, but just as they have done all season thus far, the Oilers penalty killers were equal to the task and killed off both penalties to keep it 1-0.

The Oilers finally got a spark with 2:46 to go in the frame when McDavid exploded down the right side, cut to the net and stuffed a shot past Crawford. Unfortunately, the captain's momentum also forced the net off its moorings and the goal was disallowed.

Chicago outshot Edmonton 17-6 in the middle frame and held a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes.

"In the second period, they pushed and we didn't have enough of an answer for them," said Darnell Nurse, who played 24:29 in the defeat.

"We stretched it out a little bit too much. We know we're at our best when we're playing as units of five all over the ice. We got away from that a little bit. When you get down one, you try to make plays. With the success we've had, we haven't had to rely on that. We have to get back to our structure."

The Oilers controlled the play early in the third as they attempted to tally the equalizer, but the Blackhawks weathered the storm and padded their lead with 13:40 on the clock as Nylander beat Smith with a wrist shot through the five-hole.

McDavid set up Zack Kassian on the doorstep for a golden scoring opportunity midway through the third but Crawford got his pad on it for his top save of the evening. Two minutes later, Smith made his top save of the game, laying out to deny Strome in tight after a cross-crease setup.

Edmonton earned another opportunity to strike with 3:02 left in regulation as Kubalik took a slashing penalty and James Neal scored his League-leading eighth goal of the season - sixth on the PP - to cut the lead in half.

A pulled goalie and timeout with 1:16 remaining set the table for one last ditch effort from the visitors, but Saad scored the empty-netter to seal the deal for Chicago and force the Oilers to settle for a 3-1-0 trip.

"There were a lot of positives that went on throughout the road trip," Nurse said. "It could have been better tonight, but we go back to home ice and home ice games are always huge. We've got to be re-focused when we get back home."

The Oilers return to Rogers Place on Wednesday to host the Philadelphia Flyers and conclude the mini two-game homestand on Friday against the Detroit Red Wings before venturing back out on the road to play the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild.

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