EDMONTON – The Chicago Blackhawks needed just 44 seconds to take the fight out of the Edmonton Oilers.
Jonathan Toews scored on Chicago’s first shot of the game and the Blackhawks added to Edmonton’s misery on Tuesday, beating the Oilers 4-2 and sending the NHL’s last-place team to their 11th straight game without a win. Edmonton is 0-9-2 over the stretch.
Troy Brouwer, Dustin Byfuglien and Marian Hossa also scored for the Blackhawks (36-13-4), who have gone 4-2 through six games of a season-high eight-game road trip. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith added two assists apiece for Chicago.
Oilers head coach Pat Quinn said it was pretty obvious what was going to happen when the Blackhawks scored on the first shot of the game.
“I think we were trying to scrape ourselves together after that,” he said. “When we had the puck in the second period for sure, it was like we just gave it back to them and went ‘here you are.”‘
Fernando Pisani and Ryan Potulny replied for the Oilers (16-29-6), who are approaching the team’s worst ever winless streak. The franchise record for consecutive games without a win is 14, set by the 1993 team that had 13 losses and one tie between Oct. 16 and Nov. 7.
The Oilers have won only once in their last 19 games and just one of their last 15 at home.
Quinn said his team was once again guilty of giving the Blackhawks too much respect, like they also have in earlier outings.
“We played like deer in the headlights,” he said. “We knew it was a good team we were playing and it was like we were going to just stand there and hope nothing bad would happen.”
Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers certainly had a lot of respect for his opponents.
“They move that puck pretty fast, pretty quick,” he said. “They have good execution. They don’t like dumping it in. They like to stay with the puck. They are very good at puck possession.”
Edmonton is 30th in the league, one point behind Carolina.
The Blackhawks are almost the complete opposite of the Oilers, with exactly double their points in the standings at 76 to Edmonton’s 38 and now just two points behind the San Jose Sharks for first place overall.
“That was a really good response after the (5-1) loss to Vancouver,” said Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville. “We were very disappointed with that game. But the way we played in this one sets up a game with San Jose where we have a chance to tie for first. That’s the way we have to play. I liked the pace we had all night.”
Toews agreed his team was good early but that there was a concern with allowing themselves to get a bit complacent in the later stages.
“I thought in the first two periods we did some good things, but I think that’s far from the way we can play,” he said. “There wasn’t much of an atmosphere in the building tonight, and I wouldn’t say that was an excuse, but some flat games like that you have to find a way to motivate yourself and try to remind ourselves when they scored that goal late in the second period, that it’s never over, until it’s over.”
The Hawks were up 1-0 before most of the fans were in their seats as Toews beat Deslauriers on the game’s first shot.
The Blackhawks went up 2-0 five minutes into the second as Kane circled the Oilers zone before finally dishing it in front to Brouwer, who scored his 15th of the season.
Chicago made it 3-0 midway through the second as Keith’s point shot through traffic was tipped in by Byfuglien.
It was 4-0 with six minutes to play in the second as the Blackhawks connected on the game’s first power-play opportunity. Hossa hammered home the third rebound off a mad scramble in front of Deslauriers.
The Oilers finally beat Cristobal Huet with just 20 seconds left in the period. Moreau tipped a shot through Huet’s legs before Pisani knocked it in to make the score 4-1 score heading to the third.
Edmonton got to within two goals six minutes into the final period when Patrick O’Sullivan stole the puck from Niklas Hjalmarsson deep in the Chicago zone. He fed it to Potulny in front, who beat Huet through his pads.
With the Oilers pressing late, Huet made a magnificent diving save to keep the score at 4-2.
Both teams return to the ice on Thursday. The Blackhawks play the seventh game of an eight-game trip in San Jose, while the Oilers close out a four-game homestand against St. Louis.
Notes: It was the third meeting between the two teams with Chicago also winning the first two. … The Oilers have only won two home games since starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin went down with a back injury just prior to their last game against Chicago on Nov. 21. … With Edmonton defenceman Ladislav Smid and Steve Staios both out with concussions, the Oilers once again recalled Taylor Chorney from Springfield for the game. … Both forwards Gilbert Brule (flu) and Mike Comrie (Mononucleosis) could be back in the Oilers lineup by Tuesday. … Hjalmarsson and Brent Sopel didn’t practice Monday but were expected to play for Chicago, but Sopel was a late scratch.