The Blackhawks tried tonight. They really did. The game started 23 minutes late (at almost 9 PM CT) and went about as well as one would have hoped in the first period. Edmonton out-shot the Hawks 14-6 in the opening 20 periods and their only would-be goal was taken off the board because of goaltender interference.
The Oilers did score the first goal of the game, the 18th time in 22 starts that the Blackhawks have allowed the game’s first goal. The Oilers also got the game’s second goal. Both of them came off gorgeous passes. Both of them could have been better defended.
Boris Katchouk was credited with his first goal of the season as he inadvertently made contact with a point shot by Jack Johnson and it beat Stuart Skinner. In the final eight or nine minutes of the second period, the Blackhawks had more jump in their game and showed off an offensive attack that was not existent in the first 31 minutes of the contest.
Unfortunately, that offense didn’t come out of the room to start the third period. But Connor McDavid did! And he scored Edmonton’s third goal of the night 78 seconds into the third period and it felt like that was the final nail in the Blackhawks’ coffin. It wasn’t… our old friend Mattias Janmark scored at exactly 10 minutes into the third to make the score 4-1. At the time of the Janmark goal, the shots were 11-3 in favor of the Oilers in the third period — a period that began with the Blackhawks down only one goal.
Max Domi scored a power play goal at 12:37.
And then MacKenzie Entwistle scored 19 seconds later and there was drama! The Blackhawks were within one!
Sadly, McDavid to Draisaitl happened again and the Blackhawks were down two. A double-minor on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 4:35 left in regulation at least made the final minutes intriguing. Domi scored another power play goal to cut the lead to one but, unfortunately, that was all she wrote.
Star 1: Eddie Olczyk
This was the second game for which Eddie Olczyk has been back in the United Center as a broadcaster. During neither game was there a montage, mention, or even a showing of Edzo on the scoreboard so the fans could show their appreciation for one of the most significant figures in the last 40 years of Blackhawks hockey. It’s an absolute shame they couldn’t give him a moment and allow the fans who waited until almost 9 o’clock for the puck to finally drop (and there was a good crowd at the start of the game) to applaud someone they have loved and respected for decades. Much love to Edzo.
Star 2: Arvid Söderblom
Yeah, he gave up four goals. Yeah, the posts had a few big saves for him in the first half of the game to keep the game closer than it should have been. But Söderblom made some good saves and allowed his team to hang around longer than they should have against a potent offense. He’s a solid goaltender who’s doing what he can.
Star 3: Max Domi
How about two power play goals in the third period to make this thing interesting? The second was fabulous, with Domi flying through the air after a no-look pass from Patrick Kane. He also won seven of 11 faceoffs with his two goals.
- Yeah, this isn’t fair.
- This isn’t fair, either.
- The Blackhawks’ bottom six has such incredibly limited offensive value right now… yet they produced two of the Blackhawks’ four goals. The new-look third line of Jujhar Khaira – Jason Dickinson – Colin Blackwell had a couple really good shifts in the second period but it appeared the batteries in Blackwell’s control died because he had two Grade A looks in the middle of the ice and couldn’t even snap off a shot attempt. I don’t care if you put Jonathan Toews and Kane together if the other team can focus on their line because they don’t fear the entire bottom six for a second.
- Nugent-Hopkins had one goal, one assist and eight penalty minutes in the game. It seemed like every time the Blackhawks desperately needed to find some momentum to slow down the Oilers’ attack, Nuge went to the box. I appreciate him for that.
- Toews was absolutely gassed by the middle of the third period. He took almost half of the total faceoffs in the game for the team and was on the receiving end of a couple hard whacks in front of the net. Before the final McDavid-Draisaitl goal he took a longer moment to collect himself and get back to his feet, but couldn’t keep up with McDavid (who can?) on the breakaway. He won 17 of 25 at the dot in the game.