Shawn Horcoff Returns as Edmonton Oilers Outgun Chicago Blackhawks

By Carl Maloney
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

The return of captain Shawn Horcoff coincided with one the biggest offensive outputs of the year for the Edmonton Oilers against the league-best team in the Chicago Blackhawks, as the Oilers won 6-5.

Whether there was a correlation or not, the Oilers will take the desperately needed win. Prior to the game, Horcoff called a team meeting and talked about some of the things he saw while sitting in the press box, and some of the areas which needed improvement. Other players contributed and many issues were aired out.

Whatever was said seemed to have an impact as the Oilers jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first period, highlighted by two Sam Gagner goals in the frame. Mike Brown also had his first as an Oiler. Other goal scorers were Taylor Hall, Ryan Whitney, and Horcoff.

Horcoff wasn’t the only returnee to the lineup, as the team also got Ales Hemsky and Teemu Hartikainen back. Sitting out was Ryan Jones and Ben Eager, as well as Eric Belanger with a groin injury.

It also saw a different look to Ralph Krueger‘s forward lines, featuring a more balanced offensive attack. For most of the year, the team has featured a specific top six and bottom six approach, with most of their offensive eggs in one basket being the top two lines.

Last night, the lines were a little different. Hall played with Horcoff and Hemsky, Hartikainen jumped on with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle, and then Gagner centred Nail Yakupov and Magnus Paajarvi. Ryan Smyth played between Petrell and Brown on the fourth line.

It was hard to tell which was line No. 1 and which was two, or three for that matter. It seemed to work last night, as the Oilers put six on the board after being shut out in previous game.

That’s not to say all areas were working, as the game featured poor defense and four different goaltenders. Corey Crawford replaced an ineffective Ray Emery for the Blackhawks in the first, and Yann Danis came in for Devan Dubnyk after he was involved in a collision with Hartikainen and Marian Hossa and left the game with neck pain.  The extent of the injury is unknown at this point.

The win may not have been the prettiest for the Oilers, but it was a huge confidence builder and sorely needed. The key now will be carrying that momentum forward and trying to put some wins together, Something they have been unable to do this year.

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