EDMONTON — The Chicago Blackhawks were great out of the gate against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.
Alex DeBrincat had a goal and two assists as the Blackhawks came out flying with goals on their first two shots en route to a 4-1 victory over the Oilers.
Brandon Hagel, Dylan Strome and Kirby Dach also scored for the Blackhawks (17-23-7) who snapped a three-game losing streak.
“We came ready to play,” DeBrincat said. “We played simple right off the bat, got it in deep and went to work. We drew a penalty early and scored on that and the momentum went from there.”
Hawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was called upon to make 40 saves in the win, and was especially tested in the second period when he faced 20 shots.
“It was huge,” said Chicago interim head coach Derek King. “That’s what he does. He keeps us in games. We played a really good first period and he made some really good saves when we needed him. In the second period we needed him to be sharp and he was, he was outstanding.”
Leon Draisaitl scored in response for the Oilers (23-18-3) who have lost two in a row and have just three wins in their last 11 outings at home.
“I think we’ve been out of sync all over,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid. “Passes aren’t clean, we haven’t battled hard enough around their net. Offensively we’ve been poor these two games.
“We lost the special team battle again tonight and that’s a big part of our game. When we don’t find a way to win the special teams battle, it seems like we’re chasing the game.”
As has become a broken record, the Oilers allowed the game’s first goal — this one coming on Chicago’s first shot, as DeBrincat blasted a power play one-timer past Edmonton goalie Mike Smith just under two minutes into the opening period for his 27th of the season. It was the 29th time in the last 35 games that the Oilers have allowed the first goal of the contest.
Smith also allowed a goal on Chicago’s second shot of the game just 1:03 later as DeBrincat fed a pass across to Hagel, who scored his 13th on a stick-side shot.
There was a scary moment late in the first period when Oilers defenceman Duncan Keith crashed hard into the boards and appeared to briefly lose consciousness. He was helped off the ice and did not return.
Edmonton finally got one past Fleury six minutes into the second period as a mad scramble in front of the Blackhawks net resulted in a power-play goal by Draisaitl, his 33rd of the campaign, tying him for the league lead.
The Oilers outshot the Hawks 20-6 in the middle frame.
“We kind of weathered the storm in the second period,” Strome said. “They are a good hockey team and they had a good push, but (Fleury) made some big saves and defencemen stepped up and had some huge blocks. We stuck with it and it paid off in the third.”
Chicago made it 3-1 on the power play a minute into the third as Strome tipped a DeBrincat shot past Smith.
Midway through the third the Blackhawks padded their lead as Dach was left alone in front to chip in his seventh.
The Oilers close out a three-game homestand on Friday against the New York Islanders. The Blackhawks play the second game of a three-game trip in St. Louis on Saturday.
Notes: Missing from the Oilers lineup were Kris Russell (undisclosed) and Mikko Koskinen (COVID)… Out for Chicago were Jonathan Toews (concussion protocol), Jujhar Khaira (lower back), Reese Johnson (clavicle), Tyler Johnson (neck), Riley Stillman (upper body), Kevin Lankinen (hand).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2022.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press