Marian Hossa (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Marian Hossa celebrated his 35th birthday with a goal and an assist, and Patrick Kane picked up two assists of his own as the Chicago Blackhawks swept the season series with the Edmonton Oilers thanks to a 5-3 victory on Sunday night.
Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw, Ben Smith, and Jonathan Toews all scored goals for Chicago, and Antti Raanta made 18 saves as the Blackhawks outshot the Oilers 41-21 in a winning effort.
The Blackhawks started out slowly on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, and they didn’t do much to instill faith in their fans with the way they started this one either. Just six minutes into the game, Keith got caught flat-footed in the face-off circle to Raanta’s left, and Ales Hemsky deked around him and snuck the puck under Raanta to give Edmonton an early 1-0 lead.
After that early goal, Joel Quenneville kept shuffling around his lines, and he finally started to see some results as the period wore on. Keith got a great chance in the slot when Patrick Kane found him with a gorgeous saucer pass, but he fired the puck just wide of the net on their best opportunity in the middle stages of the period.
Late in the frame though, the Blackhawks’ effort finally began to pay off. After Brandon Bollig drilled Taylor Hall along the boards, the puck found its way out to Niklas Hjalmarsson at the point. His snapshot from there was deflected by Smith, and just like that the game was tied up at 1-1.
When the second period began, the Oilers had a good scoring chance early, but Raanta stopped a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shot on a 4-on-2 rush to keep the game tied. After a couple more back and forth chances, it was Shaw who was able to capitalize on the tempo, grabbing a great pass from Brandon Saad and firing a great shot over Dubnyk’s shoulder to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead.
As the Blackhawks kept the pressure up on the offensive zone of the ice, the Oilers started making a lot of mistakes, and they eventually sent the Hawks to a power play. After a great long possession by Chicago, Dubnyk was going to be whistled for a tripping penalty, so Raanta headed off the ice for the extra attacker. Unfortunately for the Hawks, Patrick Kane tried to pass the puck back to the point while the Blackhawks were changing out defensemen, and the puck ended up rolling all the way down the ice and into the empty net to tie the game at 2-2.
The Blackhawks didn’t take long to seize the momentum back after that gaffe though, as Hossa buried a one-timer slap shot to give Chicago the lead back. Keith made an excellent play at the point to keep the puck in the zone, and after he and Hossa played catch with the puck for a few seconds, Hossa wound up and blasted a shot over Dubnyk’s shoulder to make it 3-2 Blackhawks.
Keith was back at it again just a few minutes later as the Hawks extended their lead. Just inside his own blue line, Keith one-touch passed the puck back out to Hossa in the neutral zone, who then found Patrick Sharp in stride. With a great bit of ice vision, Sharp feathered a great pass to Toews, who deked the puck around a defender and then beat Dubnyk with another quick move to make it 4-2 Blackhawks late in the second period.
Marcus Kruger did pick up a hooking minor late in the second period, but in the ensuing penalty, the Oilers were barely able to get any shots off, and the Hawks started out the third period with their two goal lead intact.
Unfortunately, that hard work they displayed on that kill was nowhere to be found a few minutes later as the Oilers brought the deficit down to one. All five Blackhawks players committed to the right side of the ice, and Jeff Schultz walked the puck all the way in from the point to just to the left of the crease. Hjalmarsson didn’t cut over until it was too late, and when he abandoned Hall in front, Schultz simply passed the puck to the young sniper, and he tapped in the easy shot to make it 4-3 Hawks.
The Blackhawks kept up the offensive pressure in the middle stages of the period, but despite some good chances by Shaw and Toews on a couple of power plays, Chicago wasn’t able to convert as Dubnyk finally seemed to settle down in his crease while making some outstanding saves.
Dubnyk’s defense kept letting him down though, and Chicago eventually made him pay. When David Perron tried to cycle the puck up the boards, Seabrook was there to corral it, and his shot from the point changed direction in front and evaded Dubnyk to make it 5-3 Blackhawks, a lead that they would hold until the end of the contest.
The Blackhawks will play the second game of their four game homestand on Tuesday night when they welcome the Colorado Avalanche to the United Center.