CHICAGO – The Edmonton Oilers ended a six-game losing streak and gained some respect.
Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky and Jordan Eberle scored in a 1:09 span late in the first period, Gagner added an empty-netter in the third and the Oilers beat the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks 7-4 on Friday night.
Rookie Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist, and Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Jones also scored for Edmonton, which was 0-4-2 after winning its first two games of the season.
Edmonton had the NHL’s worst record last season.
“We knew it was a big test, obviously them being Stanley Cup champions and for a young team like us,” Hall said. “Through two periods we played very well. Maybe we got a little nervous there in the third period, but we hung together and that’s all that matters.”
Oilers coach Tom Renney was encouraged.
“I think slowly but surely we’re becoming less spectators in games and more participants from top to bottom in our lineup,” Renney said. “Our guys are proud kids. They want to get the respect of the rest of this league, and opportunities like tonight are a good way to do that.”
The Oilers, improved to 3-23-3 in their last 29 road games dating to mid-December of last season.
“We said we want to be a good road team and to come into Chicago and get two points is a good start to it and hopefully we can build off it,” Gagner said.
Patrick Sharp scored a power-play goal and added two assists for the Blackhawks in their third loss in four games. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Jake Dowell also scored, and Duncan Keith had three assists.
“You got to give them credit. They capitalized on their chances,” Keith said. “I think we’re so focused on trying to score goals. We make a mistake and we don’t know what to do defensively and it’s in the back of our net.”
Hall, the first overall draft pick, had his first NHL goal and multi-point game Thursday night in Edmonton’s 3-2 shootout loss in Columbus.
“Maybe the biggest thing is I really focused tonight on being good defensively,” Hall said. “That first goal I had tonight wasn’t my prettiest goal obviously, but sometimes you’ve just got to shoot pucks and see what happens.”
Nikolai Khabibulin made 37 saves to help the Oilers beat the Blackhawks in regulation for the first time since February 2008, and for the first time in regulation at the United Center since January 2004.
Marty Turco started in goal for Chicago, but gave up four goals on 12 shots in the first period and was replaced by Corey Crawford to start of the second. Crawford stopped seven of 10 shots.
The Blackhawks played without star forward Marian Hossa, who sustained an upper-body injury in a collision with Los Angeles’ Jarret Stoll on Wednesday night. Hossa is expected to miss two weeks.
Hall opened the scoring 1:53 in on the Oilers’ first shot when his low screened drive fooled Turco.
Toews’ power-play goal, fired between Khabibulin’s pads from a sharp angle, tied it midway through the first. Hemsky, Eberle and Gagner capitalized on Chicago mistakes late in the period to make it 4-1.
Hemsky was open in the left circle and whipped in a fat rebound of Ray Whitney’s shot from the point to make it 2-1 with 2:30 left. Eberle scored 35 seconds later when he slipped behind Chicago’s defence, took a pass from Shawn Horcoff and broke in alone.
Gagner completed the spree with 1:56 left after Keith’s clearing attempt struck referee Stephane Auger’s skate. Magnus Paajarvi fed the loose puck to Gagner alone in the slot.
“It obviously feels good to have a good start like that,” Gagner said. “They were really pressuring at the end but we had built up enough of a lead that they weren’t able to come back.”
Kane cut it to 4-2 with 11 seconds remaining in the period from a goalmouth scramble. Cogliano tapped in Gilbert Brule’s pin-point pass 2:08 into the second to make it 5-2. Dowell replied midway through the period to trim the Oilers’ lead to 5-3 and Chicago regained some momentum.
It ended when Jones got behind the defence at the Chicago blue line, took Kurtis Foster’s pass and scored with 2:34 left in the second. Sharp’s screened power-play goal with 5:52 left in the third cut it to 6-4, but Gagner scored and empty-net goal with 1:22 left.
NOTES: Blackhawks F Ben Smith made his NHL debut after being called up from Rockford of the AHL to take Hossa’s place on the roster. … Chicago D Brian Campbell was on the ice for the team’s morning skate as he recovers from a knee injury sustained in an Oct. 1 preseason game. He could return next week.