The Oilers visit Anaheim on Wednesday for game at 8:00 p.m. MST that can be seen on Sportsnet 1. The game can also be heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
CHICAGO, IL – Despite carrying the play for the vast majority, the Edmonton Oilers couldn’t recover from a fast start by the host Chicago Blackhawks, dropping a 4-2 decision at the United Center on Sunday night propelled by four points from Patrick Kane plus two goals and an assist from rookie Artemi Panarin.
The Oilers fell behind 2-0 in the first period and recovered to fire 22 shots at the opposition in the second but couldn’t score.
“It seems like with our team, we have to get the ga-rbage out or fall behind and play from there,” said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan. “Some of that has to do – I believe – with our belief system. We’ve got to believe that we can play against these types of teams. We fall behind and then we have nothing to lose so then we play hard. That has to happen right off the bat. I think that’s mental and I think that’s massaging the mindset and belief system that we have in place right now.
“It’s just not strong enough.”
It only took the ‘Hawks 58 seconds to start doing damage on the Oilers. Panarin took a cross-ice pass from Patrick Kane and one-timed it on net. The puck went off Mark Fayne's stick and in behind Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot.
Chicago doubled its lead with 2:25 to go in the first. Panarin carried the puck down the ice and muscled his way into the slot before wiring a shot top corner to give the 'Hawks a 2-0 edge.
It was Talbot’s first game back since a 5-4 loss at home to the Flames back on Halloween. He stopped 24 of 28 shots.
“When the first one goes in off our own stick, that’s not the best way to start off a game when you’ve been off for eight games,” said Talbot. “I thought that after that I played a pretty good game. I made some big saves in the second and third for us to get a chance to pull even and Crawford was equal to the task at the other end and we just couldn’t get anything by him.”
Coach McLellan wanted a little more from his netminder.
“On one of the three (goals) we’d like to have a save,” he said. “But obviously they went off sticks. Even the first one, at a real bad angle I think it ramped up Fayner’s stick. The second one we didn’t cover very well defensively and it’s a pretty good shooter from there. The third one on a backhand, you hope he can get a piece of it.”
McLellan shook up his lines midway through the first to try and spark some offence in his club. Anton Lander moved in between Nail Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot while the line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl was reunited.
In the second period, Edmonton came out flying and continued to press to get on the board. Teddy Purcell very nearly got the Oilers on the board with a point-blank opportunity on the doorstep of the crease that Crawford steered away early in the middle frame.
Eight minutes into the second, shots on goal were 13-0 for the Oilers.
“In the second and third, I thought we played with a very good team but the first was one that cost us,” said McLellan.
Edmonton continued to get great chances throughout the period. On a partial breakaway, Eberle tried to backhand it past Crawford but the Chicago goaltender extended out his right toe to make the stop with just under five minutes to go in the period.
Then a couple minutes later, Draisaitl also got in behind the Blackhawks D and tried to backhand the puck from in-close. Crawford made that save, too. It was his 20th save of the period.
Overall shot count in period two was 22-6 for the Oilers. Overall in the game it was 27-15 Edmonton through 40 minutes.
2:16 into the third period, Viktor Tikhonov received two minutes for interference, giving Edmonton their first power play of the game and it didn’t take longer for the Oilers to convert.
40 seconds into the power play, Eberle pounced on a rebound after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took a shot through a screen and scored to draw the Oilers within a goal. The assist was the 200th point in RNH's NHL career.
With 6:32 to play in the game, Kane backhanded a shot from the slot past Talbot to regain Chicago's two-goal lead. Anisimov and Panarin got the assists, giving Kane and Panarin three points each on the night.
Andrej Sekera blasted a shot from the point that found its way past a screened Corey Crawford to get Edmonton back within a goal once again at the 18-minute mark but that was as close as the Oilers would get.
Artem Anisimov scored on the power play in the dying seconds to ice the outcome.