EDMONTON – A trip to Edmonton was just what the Chicago Blackhawks needed to get back on track.
Patrick Kane scored twice as the Blackhawks snapped a two-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the last-place Oilers on Wednesday.
Patrick Sharp and Brian Bickell also scored for the Blackhawks (28-22-4), who have won just two of their last six games.
“We needed to win this game,” said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. “Sometimes we tend to look at the standings and see a team below us and maybe drop our game level down a little bit. We didn’t do that tonight.”
With the win, the defending Stanley Cup champions remained 11th in the Western Conference but kept pace at three points back of the eighth-place Calgary Flames.
“Every game is huge for us right now,” said Blackhawks assistant captain Duncan Keith. “There is no waiting any more or saying there is lots of time because we don’t have a lot of time anymore. We are going to have to be desperate every game and come out flying like we did in the first period tonight. There is no reason we can’t do that every game.”
Jordan Eberle replied for the Oilers (16-30-8), who have lost five of their last six and 19 of their last 23.
“We were deserved of most of what happened tonight,” said Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger. “They came out with their A game, very high speed and very high tempo. There was too much space and room. We took some unnecessary penalties in the first half of the game and it just put us on our heels the whole time.”
The Blackhawks had the first prolonged pressure of the game midway through the first, and it paid off as Toews passed to a hard-charging Sharp, who scored his 27th goal of the season.
Chicago went up 2-0 five minutes into the second as an errant Taylor Hall pass to the point was taken up ice on a breakaway by Bickell, who beat Devan Dubnyk with a backhand deke.
Dubnyk was coming off his first career shutout on Monday in Nashville.
Chicago goalie Corey Crawford was barely tested in the first 40 minutes, his biggest stops coming in the dying seconds on a pair of shots in tight from Hall.
The Blackhawks took a three-goal lead four minutes into the third period on their sixth power play of the night as Tomas Kopecky made a nice backhand feed from behind the goal-line to Kane, who snapped the puck into the net to make it 3-0.
Eberle ruined Crawford’s shutout bid with just 3:40 left in the game as he scored on the rebound of a Jim Vandermeer point shot.
Kane put the game away for the Blackhawks with an empty net goal with 43 seconds left.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney was not at the game, instead travelling to Cranbrook, B.C, to attend his father’s funeral. Krueger ran the bench against Chicago and will also lead the Oilers against Ottawa on Saturday.
It was a bit of an odd day in the Chicago dressing room as well, as they traded winger Jack Skille to Florida just before the game. Skille and prospects Hugh Jessiman and David Pacan were dealt to the Panthers in exchange for forward Michael Frolik and highly-touted Czech goalie Alexander Salak, who leads all netminders in the Swedish Elite League.
“It was a weird day,” Toews said. “Especially coming right before the game like that. Jack was getting ready just like everybody else. We’re getting warmed up and the next thing you know he isn’t in the locker room. He’s a good guy and a good teammate and we wish him the best. At the same time we are excited to see what we are getting.”
Notes: It was the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams. Edmonton won two of the first three.…Hawks forward Marian Hossa left the game in the second period with an upper body injury and is listed as day to day…Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson didn’t practise Tuesday after blocking four shots against Calgary on Monday, but was able to return to play against Edmonton.…Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert, who left their last game after taking a knee to the head, returned to the lineup.…Wednesday’s match was the 300th NHL game for Oiler forward Andrew Cogliano.