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Sneak Attack: Oilers 5, Blackhawks 4

The Blackhawks can’t handle the Oilers dynamic duo, lose their eighth straight game despite near comeback.

Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

Despite a third-period comeback attempt, the Chicago Blackhawks fell 5-4 to the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night at the United Center.

The first period was scoreless, though it looked like the Oilers would go up 1-0 with about five minutes left in the first period on a Zack Hyman goal. But because Hyman had cross-checked Seth Jones into Arvid Söderblom prior to scoring, the Blackhawks successfully challenged for goalie interference and the goal was disallowed.

Edmonton did end up with the first goal of the game, though, and it came 54 seconds into the second period. Leon Draisaitl gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead after Darnell Nurse sent him a beautiful cross-ice pass through traffic.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins then scored off a behind-the-net pass from Jesse Puljujarvi, doubling the Oilers lead about 10 minutes into the second.

The Blackhawks would get one back 14:33 into the middle frame as Jack Johnson’s long shot hit Boris Katchouk just enough to deflect the puck past Stuart Skinner. Credit to MacKenzie Entwistle for his effort to keep the puck in the zone prior to Johnson’s shot.

Connor McDavid regained the two-goal lead for the Oilers 1:18 into the third period — probably causing J. Johnson’s soul to leave his body in the process — as McDavid sped around him in a comically effortless manner.

Later, Mattias Janmark buried a feed from Nugent-Hopkins on an odd-man rush, extending the Oilers’ lead to 4-1 exactly midway through the third period.

The Blackhawks made it interesting by scoring two goals within 19 seconds just a few minutes later.

First, Max Domi made it 4-2 with an absolute (and unassisted) snipe on the power play. Then a Reese Johnson shot bounced off a skate directly to Entwistle in the slot, who wired it home to make it 4-3.

The Oilers regained their two-goal lead with 4:39 left in the game after Draisaitl hammered home a one-timer from a McDavid pass off the rush.

The Blackhawks didn’t go quietly into the night, though, as Domi scored his second goal of the game with just 1:11 left. The Blackhawks lost the faceoff, but Patrick Kane pickpocketed Cody Ceci and then sent a behind-the-back pass to Domi, who dove to make the shot.

Unfortunately, the Blackhawks couldn’t complete the comeback and fell 5-4 to the Oilers.

Notes

  • It’s not surprising this game didn’t feel like the Oilers overwhelmed the Blackhawks for much of it: the Oilers are a subpar puck-possession team with an almost botton-10 expected goal share that relies mostly on their offensive duo and power play to outscore their issues. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still a better team than the Blackhawks, but not so far off that the Blackhawks can’t keep it interesting.
  • The Blackhawks were outshot 14-6 in the first period, but that stat is somewhat misleading considering half of those Edmonton shots came on the power play. At 5-on-5, the Oilers still had a slight edge, but not by much: 13-11 in shot attempts, 10-8 in scoring chances, and 4-3 in high-danger scoring chances.
  • The second period was actually tilted in favor of the Blackhawks, including a 6-1 high danger chance differential. It’s too bad they don’t have as much talent to finish those types of chances regularly, though.
  • The Blackhawks were pretty soundly outplayed in the third period, yet they resembled the scrappy Blackhawks at the start of the season. They could have let Draisaitl’s second goal deflate them, but instead, they pressed hard at the end to get within one. I’ve said this before but it bares repeating: I’m okay with the Blackhawks losing this season as long as they do it in an entertaining way.
  • Richardson gave his reasoning behind waiting to pull the goalie so late at the end of the game:
  • McDavid’s goal from tonight is going to be in every highlight reel for the next week, but that feels almost silly when it was Jack Johnson he zoomed around. McDavid is otherworldly, but he’s also not alone in having undressed J. Johnson in recent years, let’s be real.
  • Entwistle’s line was arguably the best tonight — albeit in lower minutes — so it was cool to see them rewarded a couple of times, especially with Entwistle getting his first goal of the season.
  • Good keep-in by Domi on his first goal. The Oilers had been successful in ringing the puck around and out a handful of times earlier in the game. Domi not only prevented that, but he then walked the puck in to score almost casually.
  • The play by Kane on Domi’s second goal was very cool, although — like McDavid pantsing Johnson above — Kane’s takeaway was from Cody Ceci, who isn’t exactly the greatest competition. Still, Kane hasn’t been playing his best hockey as of late — though who really has for the Blackhawks lately? — so it’s great to see him put in the effort for a steal and a pass like that.
  • Kane almost set up the Blackhawks the game-tying goal with about 16 seconds left — if only Taylor Raddysh had lifted the puck here:
  • Tyler Johnson was seen post-game in a walking boot, meaning it might be a bit longer before he can rejoin the Blackhawks. He had been skating at practice for a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, but he had a setback around Nov. 20 and hasn’t been seen since.
  • Finally, congrats to Andreas Athanasiou for playing in his 400th NHL game.

Game Charts

Three stars

  1. Leon Draisaitl (EDM) — 2 goals, 1 assist
  2. Connor McDavid (EDM) — 1 goals, 1 assist
  3. Max Domi (CHI) — 2 goals

What’s next

The Blackhawks start a three-game road trip in New York on Saturday against the Rangers for a 6:30 p.m. puck drop.