EDMONTON, AB -
A shorthanded Chicago goal early in the game sparked the visitors to a four-goal run and the Blackhawks would leave Edmonton with a 5-1 victory, putting a halt to the Oilers win streak at three and extending their own to three.
"A loss is a loss," said Oilers Captain Andrew Ference. "We made mistakes, they capitalized shorthanded on special teams, right off the bat. It put us behind the eight-ball."
Instead of being beneficial, it was an Oilers power play attempt that allowed Chicago to jump out to an early lead.
An Edmonton turnover at the Chicago blue line sprung freed the Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews on a shorthanded breakaway. All alone on Devan Dubnyk, Toews gave a little shoulder shake, making the Oilers goalie bite and leaving top shelf wide open. Toews roofed it to give Chicago an early 1-0 lead at 5:14. Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith earned the helpers.
"It's kind of a weird play," said Oilers forward David Perron. "They break a stick and it's supposed to go down the ice. It doesn't and… it was a little bit of a misread and it's a breakaway. Obviously, a guy like that you don't want to give a breakaway."
Toews is currently tied for 10th in the NHL with 24 points through 25 games.
The Blackhawks followed it up with another special teams score, this time on the power play at 8:06. Patrick Kane scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season by putting home the loose puck over a sprawling Dubnyk. Andrew Shaw and Keith both earned assists on the goal, while providing traffic and chaos near the Edmonton net.
The series of unfortunate events continued for the Oilers 1:28 into the second period. A rebound deflected in past Dubnyk off of his own defenceman, Corey Potter. Johnny Oduya was credited with the goal, which put the 'Hawks up 3-0.
"It's tough when they're bearing down on their chances and we get some chances and whether it's a really good save or just a missed opportunity, it's tough when you get down a couple of goals right off the bat," said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. "We've got to find a way to battle and rally forward."
Shaw made it 4-0 for the Blackhawks when Jeremy Morin broke in on Dubnyk with the 3-on-1 odd-man rush, put on a great move and found Shaw backdoor for the goal.
Dubnyk would be pulled following the goal, after making 10 saves on 14 shots, in favour of Ilya Bryzgalov. It was Bryzgalov's first time to see game-action for the Oilers since agreeing with the team on a one-year deal on November 8.
At 8:08 of the second period, defenceman Justin Schultz would break the shutout with a scorching shot from the far-side face-off dot, which he put top-shelf past Corey Crawford. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall earned the assists. The tally was Schultz's third goal and tenth point of the season.
With 8:50 to go in the second period, Bryzgalov made his first big save of the night as Oilers Captain Andrew Ference took a delayed penalty, giving Chicago the extra attacker. Bryzgalov flashed the glove low to make a stop on a shot, drawing a loud response from the home crowd, eager to welcome the new netminder to Edmonton.
"It's very nice from them," Bryzgalov said of the crowd's support. "I didn't even know that… there was a standing ovation. I was so focused on the game and a little bit nervous too. That's why I maybe not paid attention to that moment that was outside the game."
Chicago would get their fifth and final goal of the night with 1:58 remaining in the game as the puck deflected past Bryzgalov at the short-side post. Shaw would get the goal for his third point of the night. Nick Leddy and Saad would get the assists.
"I eat there, I do everything there," Shaw said about playing close to the net. "That's what got me here, that's what's going to keep me here."
Bryzgalov would finish the game with 12 saves on 13 shots.
"That's a veteran guy," said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "He comes in with a little swagger… He was good. The only one they got by him was tipped."
The Oilers, who came into tonight riding a three-game win-streak, saw this game as a test to where they stood as a team. Losing 5-1 was a setback.
"It would suggest that we still have a lot of work to do," said Ference. "We're not denying it at all. We didn't have anyone in here saying we didn't have to work on things. That's obvious before this game and after this game as well."