Petr Sykora had a goal and an assist as the Oilers extended their winning streak to a season-high five games with a 5-1 victory over the Blackhawks on Friday.
Jarret Stoll, Marty Reasoner, Raffi Torres and Marc-Andre Bergeron also scored for the Oilers while Michael Holmqvist had the lone goal for the Blackhawks.
The Oilers got to Chicago early, put things away late and overcame some second-period lethargy which threatened to let Chicago back into the game.
“We kind of let down in the second period and gave them a lot of chances to come back,” said Sykora. “They could have easily done that. But in the third we kind of went back to basics and didn’t
make the same mistakes or turn the puck over.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish credited Dwayne Roloson with making the big saves during the second period slowdown to earn his 12th win of the season.
“He didn’t have to be spectacular tonight,” he said. “He was when he had to be for some short times in the second period after we got a little casual with the puck.
“When we were up 3-0 we were trying to paint a picture every time we touched the puck instead of making it easy on ourselves. Instead we made it a little difficult on (Roloson) when it didn’t have to be.”
The victory improved Edmonton’s overall record to 13-8-1 – and its home record to an impressive 10-2 – while keeping the Oilers in a tie with Minnesota for first place in the Northwest Division.
The Blackhawks, who lost all three of their games on a Western Canada swing, now sit at 7-12-2.
Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who played the final two periods in place of starter Brian Boucher, said his team had little chance of escaping the early hole.
“It’s hard to come back against a team like the Oilers, especially when they are playing at home,” he said. “I just came in and tried to do my best to keep us in it and I think we had a chance there in
the second period.”
It didn’t take long for the Oilers to take the lead, scoring on a power play just over two minutes in when Shawn Horcoff made a nice feed to Stoll in the high slot. Stoll then blasted a one-timer cleanly past Boucher.
The Oilers struck again five minutes later as Reasoner snuck out from behind the goal-line and lifted a backhand into the net – a play Boucher would love to have back. Captain Jason Smith assisted on the goal and hit the 150-point plateau in his NHL career.
Edmonton made it 3-0 with three-and-a-half minutes remaining when Smith’s shot from the point was deflected in by Torres. Khabibulin relieved to start the second after Boucher allowed three goals on just seven shots.
The move seemed to invigorate the Blackhawks, who had a number of excellent scoring opportunities and finally got one past Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson before the midway point of the second. Roloson allowed a big rebound after a toe save on a Duncan Keith shot and Holmqvist was there to put it into the net.
Chicago had 15 shots in the second but still exited the period trailing by two.
Reasoner was unable to add to his two-point performance, leaving the game late in the second after hitting his head on the glass and not returning.
Roloson kept the Blackhawks from cutting further into Edmonton’s lead, stopping Tony Salmelainen on a breakaway opportunity at the start of the third.
Edmonton then regained their three-goal advantage just before the five-minute mark of the third as Sykora continued his hot streak with his 12th goal of the season. The off-season free agent acquisition took a shot while falling down, and puck went between a surprised Khabibulin’s legs and in.
“I didn’t even see where the puck was going,” said Sykora. “I was trying to go five-hole and I’m not even sure if it did. I was just trying to hit the net.”
Edmonton got to Khabibulin again on a two-man advantage with just over seven minutes left to play as Bergeron blasted a bullet from the point in to give Edmonton the 5-1 victory.
The Oilers play the fifth of a seven-game home stand Tuesday against Anaheim, giving Oiler fans their first chance to see Chris Pronger as a Duck. Pronger demanded a trade in the off-season, leaving many Oiler fans seething.
Notes: Oilers defenceman Steve Staios, who signed a four year contract extension with the club on Tuesday, missed Friday’s game after tweaking his left knee in practice the day before. His absence ended his consecutive game streak at 224. . . . Entering the game the Oilers had moved to the top spot in the league for penalty killing. Edmonton had only allowed 10 goals in 107 chances in its first 21 outings. . . . A Chicago player has not registered a hat trick in a road game since former Blackhawk Tyler Arnason accomplished the feat on December 28, 2002 at San Jose. Arnason was also the last Blackhawk to get a hat trick at home, March 19, 2004 vs. Vancouver.