With the win, the Blackhawks move to just four points back of the Nashville Predators for the second wild-card playoff spot.
The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 at the United Center on Thursday night to pick up their fourth consecutive victory and fifth in the last seven contests. Alex DeBrincat led the way on offense with two goals, while Corey Crawford made 21 saves to secure the lead in the third period. The veteran netminder has now allowed three or fewer goals in 16 of his last 17 starts.
“It’s everyone together,” Crawford said. “It’s impossible to do it alone. Our D have been great. We’ve been taking away a lot of the middle chances and back-end plays. That’s what you need to do.”
The Blackhawks are now 31-28-8 through 67 games and remain in the playoff hunt with just about a month remaining in the season.
The opening minutes of the game were filled with back-and-forth action, but as the period went on, the Blackhawks settled in and began to take control.
Patrick Kane opened the scoring at 14:34 by demonstrating the terrific patience he possesses. Dylan Strome made a magnificent pass from below the goal line to find Kane, and ‘Showtime’ out-waited Oilers’ goaltender Mike Smith for his 30th goal of the year, which is the most the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks took control in the latter half of the first period, and they came out of the first intermission with that same intensity. It took just 47 seconds for Jonathan Toews to stuff home a wraparound to make it 2-0.
Drake Caggiula was originally credited with the primary assist, but it was later changed and given to Dominik Kubalik.
Alex DeBrincat extended the Blackhawks lead to 3-0 with a wrist shot from the point for his 17th goal of the season. As Eddie Olczyk loves to say, good things happen when you put the puck on net!
Adam Boqvist picked up his second assist of the night on DeBrincat’s goal, which gives him multiple points in each of the last two games. The 19-year-old blueliner also extended his point streak to three games.
Edmonton finally got on the board at 5:59 after Leon Draisaitl connected with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a give-and-go to make it 3-1.
DeBrincat responded with his second goal of the period to regain the Blackhawks three-goal lead at 13:02. Much like on his first goal, Caggiula provided a terrific screen in front to take away Smith’s vision.
Near the end of the period, Blackhawks defenseman Lucas Carlsson took a puck to the ear and did not return to the contest. Coach Jeremy Colliton didn’t have much of an update after the game.
As expected, the Oilers came with a strong push out of the second intermission. The Blackhawks dodged a bullet right out of the gate, as Draisaitl rang a shot off the crossbar just 10 seconds into the period.
Edmonton cut into the Hawks lead at 8:03 as Zack Kassian sent a pass between Olli Maatta’s legs on a 2-on-1 to set up Josh Archibald for a tap-in goal.
Kailer Yamamoto scored 49 seconds later to cut the lead to 3-2 after being left all alone in the slot. Slater Koekkoek, Toews, and Kubalik all appeared to be caught puck watching on the play.
The Oilers came close to tying the score in the dwindling minutes, but Crawford stood tall in net to keep his team ahead. The Hawks were outshot 12-6 in the third period, but Colliton was happy with his team’s effort down the stretch, nonetheless.
“The work ethic from our forwards was excellent,” Colliton said. “We were getting above the puck consistently, our gap was good. [McDavid’s] a great player and Draisaitl’s a great player, but when you’ve got to come through five guys, it makes it easier to defend… I was proud of how we finished it off.”
The Blackhawks are right back in action on Friday night against the lowly Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Crawford has made seven consecutive starts for the Blackhawks, so Friday could be an appropriate time for Malcolm Subban to make his first start with the team. He won’t get an easier matchup than the 15-48-5 (!!!) Red Wings.
“We got a good look at [Subban] and he’s been practicing and that’s his job to stay ready, stay prepared,” Colliton said. “We’ll go from there.”
These two teams met back on Jan. 5 in Chicago, with the Blackhawks coming out on top 4-2 despite falling behind 2-0 after 20 minutes.
The contest is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT and is scheduled to be on NBCSCH, FS-D, and NHLN.
For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author (@JackBushman2) on Twitter. Make sure to check out the author’s podcast, Talkin’ Hawkey, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter (@TalkinHawkey).