EDMONTON – The Chicago Blackhawks wanted to become a better road team. After opening their recent six-game trip with two wins in Alberta, it seems they have succeeded.
Jonathan Toews scored two goals and added an assist as the Chicago Blackhawks won their sixth game in a row, knocking off the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Saturday night.
Patrick Kane, Kris Versteeg and John Madden also scored for the Blackhawks (14-5-2) who built on a 7-1 win over Calgary for their second consecutive road win to start their second-longest road trip of the year.
Prior to their latest two wins, the Blackhawks had lost three in a row on the road.
“We needed to be a better road team and we’re off to a good start with that on this trip,” Toews said. “That first game in Calgary was a big one and we continued to play well tonight. We’re on a roll right now. We’re not thinking about our six-game streak though, we’re just trying to take it one game at a time.”
Toews said he is feeling 100 per cent again after missing six games with a concussion.
“The last five games, I have felt really good,” he said. “I’m not thinking about it one bit.”
Sheldon Souray and Dustin Penner responded for the Oilers (9-11-3) who have now lost five of their last six and eight of 10.
Oilers head coach Pat Quinn said all his team needs to look to for inspiration is the play of a team like Chicago.
“You hope there are some lessons there,” he said. “We got beat in all of the fundamentals of the game. They outworked us and out-willed us early on. We had some guys that didn’t play very hard. If we learn from that then we have a chance. But we abandoned the game plan.
“We got handed our lunch tonight.”
Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers, a surprise starter when Nikolai Khabibulin came down with game-day back problems, allowed five goals on 30 shots.
“It’s never fun when you lose a game like this,” he said. “We have to refocus and be a lot better than that.”
The game started with a bang as Blackhawks rookie forward Bryan Bickell bounced off of Penner while trying to make a mid-ice hit and instead hit his head on the ice following the collision. Bickell could barely keep his feet under him as he was helped to the dressing room and was unable to return for the remainder of the game.
Chicago opened the scoring nearly four minutes in as Kane picked Ladislav Smid’s pocket behind the net and passed to Toews, who put his own rebound behind Jeff Deslauriers.
The Oilers responded less than a minute later as Blackhawks defenceman Cam Barker accidentally swept the rebound of Souray’s shot past Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet.
Souray gave that own-goal back three minutes later when he gloved Versteeg’s high shot into Edmonton’s goal.
The Blackhawks made it 3-1 with eight minutes left in the first as Kane shrugged off Liam Reddox and sent a shot between Deslaurier’s legs.
Deslauriers got the start in place of Nikolai Khabibulin, who was sidelined on game day with a bad back.
The game settled down a bit until just past the midway point of the second period. Chicago went up by three goals on a heads-up play by Andrew Ladd, who picked up a rebound and dished it to Madden, who had an empty net to shoot for.
Edmonton seemed to have closed the gap with a power-play goal with just one-tenth of a second left in the second, as Shawn Horcoff poked a puck through Huet’s legs. But a video review determined that time had run out.
The Oilers scored on that same penalty to start the third, however, as Penner tipped a Steve Staios shot for his 13th of the season to make it a 4-2 game.
Chicago restored its lead on a power play as Toews took a feed from the side-boards and sent a shot high glove-side past Deslauriers for his second of the game and fourth of the season.
The Blackhawks play the third game of a six-game road swing on Sunday night in Vancouver while Edmonton plays the middle game of a five-game homestand on Monday against Phoenix.
Notes: With first-string goalie Nikolai Khabibulin unable to go against his old team as a game day decision sitting out with a sore back, the Oilers were scrambling to find a backup behind Deslauriers in time for the game. They ended up singing goalie Torrie Jung of the Edmonton Oil Kings with the Western Hockey League on a tryout contracta It was another hit for Edmonton already sitting with the most man-games lost to injury in the NHL, entering the game with 122. They were so banged up they only had 13 players for practice earlier in the weeka Thankfully, many that were unable to work out on Thursday were back with the team for Saturday’s game as Ethan Moreau (head), Ales Hemsky (upper body), Lubomir Visnovsky (undisclosed), Shawn Horcoff (shoulder) and Liam Reddox (foot) were all able to play, as was forward J.F. Jacques back from a seven game absence with a back injurya On the Chicago injury front, it appears the Hawks will finally get a look at free agent signing Marian Hossa soon, expected to play his first game with the team next week after off-season shoulder surgerya The Blackhawks lost centre Andrew Ebbett on Saturday as he was claimed on waivers by the Minnesota Wild. Ebbett, 26, recorded one goal and two penalty minutes in 10 games with Chicago this seasona With the win, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville moved past Glen Sather on the NHL’s all-time wins list for 14th place with 497 victories.