EDMONTON – There are many things that haven’t worked for the Edmonton Oilers thus far this season, but the shootout isn’t of them.
Sam Gagner scored the shootout winner as the Oilers won their league-high sixth shootout this season, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Saturday night.
All but three of Edmonton’s nine wins this season have come in shootout sessions as they improved their record in that category to 6-1.
“I just had a feeling Sam was going to score tonight,” said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. “We obviously have some pretty good confidence going in the shootouts. Thankfully, we have that aspect of our game going.”
Ales Hemsky and Marty Reasoner scored in regulation for the Oilers (9-13-1), who improved their record to 2-3 through five games of an important six-game home stand.
Dwayne Roloson, who had watched backup goalie Mathieu Garon start the last three games for the Oilers, made 38 saves for the win and stopped both Chicago shootout attempts he faced.
The veteran goalie said he felt more himself in Saturday’s match than he had in other recent efforts.
“It’s kind of like I was trying to make something out of nothing before this game,” Roloson said. “You have to let the play come to you and I wasn’t doing that. I was trying too hard to make the saves and sort of second-guessing myself. It was good to get the win.”
“He was on the puck tonight like he hasn’t been in a while,” added MacTavish. “He had his game down tonight and he needed it. And we needed it.”
Jim Vandermeer and Duncan Keith had the goals for the Blackhawks, (12-8-2) who had a two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 2-1-2 through the fifth game of a six-game road swing.
But Blackhawks head coach Denis Savard was reasonably happy to capture a point, especially with the flu making its way through their roster, keeping forwards Patrick Sharp and Tuomo Ruutu out of the lineup against Edmonton.
“Our forecheck wasn’t as good as it could have been in the first period but after the second I felt we easily could have been up 3-1,” he said. “It just didn’t happen. But we played hard with some guys out and that was good to see.”
Neither team was able to muster up much offence in the scoreless first period. Nikolai Khabibulin made eight stops in the Chicago net while Roloson made seven for Edmonton.
Chicago broke the deadlock just 43 seconds into the second as Vandermeer unleashed a rocket from the left point that found its way through a maze of players in front and past Roloson’s glove.
Edmonton got the equalizer with eight minutes left to go in the middle frame as Denis Grebeshkov brought the puck deep into Chicago territory and then fed a pass from behind the net to Hemsky, who had an easy tap in to make it 1-1 after 40 minutes.
Edmonton took the lead six minutes into the third period as Kyle Brodziak fed a puck to Reasoner at the left circle and his quick shot beat Khabibulin.
But Chicago would pull even just past the halfway point of the third, as the Oilers were caught scrambling in their own zone. Keith was able to put a point shot past a completely screened Roloson, who was already playing without his stick to make it 2-2.
The Oilers were dealt a bit of a raw deal late in the game as Hemsky was nailed with a questionable holding the stick call, but they were able to hang on and force the overtime and shootout sessions.
The Blackhawks wrap up their lengthy six-game road trip in Vancouver on Sunday while the Oilers complete a six-game home stand on Monday against Columbus.
Notes: – Edmonton blue-liner Dick Tarnstrom left the game early in the second period after going hard into the boards following a hit by Dustin Byfuglien and did not return, suffering a mild concussiona Oiler defenceman Steve Staios played in his 700th career NHL gamea It was the Tickets for Troops military appreciation night in Edmonton as more than 5,000 tickets were donated by Oiler fans for Canadian servicemen and women and their familiesa Saturday also marked the 85th consecutive regular season sellout at Rexall PlaceaThe Hawks have scored an astounding 10 short-handed goals this season, including two in their last outing Thursday against Calgary. Sharp has been a major reason for their success, scoring a league-leading five shorthanded markers.