EDMONTON – It wasn’t as ignominious as a seven-goal drubbing, but the Edmonton Oilers’ latest home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks wasn’t far off.
Martin Havlat and Dave Bolland had a goal and an assist apiece as the Blackhawks won their second in a row, defeating the Oilers 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Cam Barker also scored for the Hawks (28-13-8), who have won three of the first four games of a gruelling eight-game road trip. Chicago outshot Edmonton 41-21, showing the same level of dominance they exhibited in a 9-2 rout of the Oilers on Dec. 16 at Rexall Place.
Ethan Moreau replied for the Oilers (25-22-3), who lost their second straight and finished 3-3 on a six-game homestand despite a promising start to it.
“They caught us sleeping a little bit during the game,” said Edmonton defenceman Tom Gilbert. “It is playing the whole 60 minutes that we seem to be having trouble with. They are a team that you are going to be chasing around if you give them the opportunity to move the puck like they did.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said his team was dominated in many areas of the game.
“It’s hard to exhibit intensity in the defensive zone and we spent the majority of our time there,” he said.
“Our smaller guys didn’t exhibit a lot of skill tonight or make a lot of plays and that is a bad combination.”
Chicago netminder Cristobal Huet credited the Oilers with hanging around despite being on the wrong end of a 2-to-1 disparity in shots.
“I think we played such a good game tonight,” said Huet. “I felt like … without (Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson) it would have been a three-or a four-goal game. We played hard and I tried to make the saves I had to make in the third and help them win the game.”
Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said he was glad to see his team carry forward the momentum earned in last Saturday’s 4-2 win in San Jose.
“I thought we had a lot of energy before the game coming out of the way we played in San Jose,” he said. “We just didn’t feel satisfied coming in here after a good game in San Jose. I thought we had a real good response.”
Bolland feels the trip is going about as well as can be expected.
“It’s been going well, since the first game in Anaheim to now it’s been good except for the 5-2 loss in the L.A. game,” he said. “I don’t think we played that well in that one but the past couple games we’ve been playing really well.”
Edmonton got some more bad news after the game, as defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder after leaving in the third period.
The Oilers opened the scoring at 4:48 of the first period on an unusual play. Moreau lifted the puck from behind the net and it hit Blackhawks defender Brian Campbell in the shoulder, landed on the back of Huet and slid into the net.
Edmonton had a good chance to go up by two with two and a half minutes to play in the opening period as Ales Hemsky sprung Shawn Horcoff on a clear breakaway, but Huet made the stop.
Chicago had more than its fair chances in the first, outshooting Edmonton 14-7, but Roloson was solid in the early going.
The Blackhawks evened the score on the power play at 3:06 of the second as Barker’s blast from the point eluded Roloson, who appeared to be screened on the play.
After several more good chances, Chicago finally made it 2-1 on its 29th shot of the game with just under four minutes to go in the second. Bolland out-waited Moreau’s attempt to slide across and block the shot and beat Roloson with a long shot from the point.
Chicago took a deciding 3-1 lead midway through the third as Havlat’s wraparound attempt hit a stick in front and deflected into the Oilers net.
Both teams return to action on Thursday with Edmonton starting a three-game road trip in St. Louis and Chicago playing the fifth game of their massive eight-game trip in Calgary.
Notes: The seven-goal margin of defeat in their previous meeting tied an Edmonton franchise record for a home game, which was then broken in last Tuesday’s 10-2 loss to Buffalo. … The Oilers received a boost when second-year forward Sam Gagner returned to the lineup. Gagner was expected to be out at least two weeks with an ankle injury but only missed three games. … Edmonton’s all-time record against Chicago coming into the contest was 45-46-12.