The Edmonton Oilers proved once again last night that, despite a miserable season that will likely lead them to yet another top-three pick in this year’s draft, they are still capable of beating quality teams like the Chicago Blackhawks.
Not that they didn’t hit some speed bumps along the way, mind you, but they still did just enough to get the job done.
Most of the credit should go to the Oilers’ power play. After going six games without scoring a power play goal, and two games in a row without a single power play opportunity, the team went 3-for-4 against the Blackhawks with power play goals from Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff.
This has been the Oilers’ preferred method of scoring all season long. Sure, it’s certainly part of the reason why they are nearly dead-last in the Western Conference, as one-dimensional hockey won’t win you a lot of games, but it worked for them last night.
Gagner continued his dominance of the Blackhawks by scoring twice, and the Oilers were happy to get Horcoff back from injury as he won over 50 perfect of his faceoffs against Chicago’s top line, which proved to be a big help to the Oilers. Between these things and the fact that 13 different Oilers scored a point, there was a lot for the Oilers to smile about.
That said, last night’s win was sloppy and lazy at best. After scoring four goals in the opening 12-plus minutes of the first period, the Oilers largely took their foot off the gas pedal and allowed the supremely talented Blackhawks to claw their way back into the game.
A game the Oilers nearly lost.
Yes, they outhit the Blackhawks, but they won fewer than 40 percent of their faceoffs, still didn’t shoot the puck very much.
The defense fell asleep during the final two periods, Devan Dubnyk‘s poor decision to chase down a puck near the blue line led to a Blackhawks goal, and despite making some critical saves to preserve this victory for the Oilers, Yann Danis gave up three goals after replacing the injured Dubnyk, and looked shaky in spots.
A win is a win, especially on a nine-game road trip that has seen the Oilers only win twice in eight games, but this one was ugly. This result won’t change the course of the Oilers’ season much, but it was a nice one to get, and it gives them a chance to close out the road trip on a winning streak if they can defeat the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow night.