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GAME STORY: Oilers 3, Blackhawks 1

Cam Talbot chipped in a big performance with 38 saves as the Oilers downed the Blackhawks 3-1

by Chris Wescott / EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer

CHICAGO, IL - Cam Talbot was terrific, turning away 38 shots, as the Oilers downed the Blackhawks 3-1 in Chicago for their third straight victory.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Oilers @ Blackhawks Post-Game

"He was just in the zone," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "He faced a lot of rubber. He had to be alert for a full 60 minutes and never had a chance to slip out of it. I thought he was tremendous tonight."

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The Oilers did not have much going in their favour in the opening period. In fact, they logged just four shots on net in the first 20 minutes. It took until 18:19 of the first for the Oilers to get their second shot.

It was a little surprising how well Chicago played in the first as they were coming off their bye week, a situation that has seen other teams struggle with this season.

"They came out flying in the first and that's a veteran team over there," said Talbot. "We knew to expect that from them… They came out hard and we were able to weather the storm."

The Blackhawks hit a crossbar and a post, as Edmonton was lucky to escape the first with a 0-0 tie. Talbot was a big reason for the scoreless frame, having stopped all 12 Chicago shots in the first.

"It might have been one of, if not our worst period of the season," said Oilers winger Milan Lucic. "The way (Talbot) kept us in there was huge. The reason we won tonight was the way he played all game long, especially in the first period. Guys were able to build off that heading into the second period."

The Oilers started the second much better, logging more zone time and a couple of scoring opportunities in the opening minutes.

Then Oilers defenceman Eric Gryba hammered Tanner Kero into the boards. Ryan Hartman came flying in to avenge his teammate and the two dropped the gloves. Hartman got the extra two for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct penalty.

Edmonton scored on the ensuing power play at 5:02 of the middle frame, thanks to a lucky bounce. A Matt Benning shot from the corner went in off Trevor van Riemsdyk. Drake Caggiula recorded the lone assist.

"I was just throwing the puck on net," said Benning. "I saw a guy there… and sometimes when you throw it on net you get lucky."

Benning later crushed Kero with a big hit at the blueline, and then hammered a shot off the post midway through the second.

In the third, Edmonton began to pull away a little more. The Oil took a 2-0 lead with 10:10 remaining in the third when a patient Lucic froze Crawford and fired shot five-hole for his first tally since January 20.

"It felt pretty good to get that one," said Lucic. "The goals haven't been easy to get as of late, so I've just been trying to do what I can to stick with it. I found myself in a great shooting opportunity and was able to make it count so hopefully I can build from that and erase all the troubles heading into this game."

The Blackhawks cut the Oilers lead in half with 4:47 remaining. Richard Panik got the puck alone in front of Talbot and buried his chance to make it 2-1.

In the game's final minute, the Blackhawks cycled the puck well but Talbot again was there to make the big stops. Talbot denied Jonathan Toews in tight with 42 seconds remaining.

Connor McDavid potted the empty-net insurance goal with 27 seconds left to make it 3-1 and stick a dagger in the Blackhawks.

The Oilers continue their long road trip, with their first game of a back-to-back in Florida, against Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

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