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Oilers begin road trip with OT loss to relentless Hawks

It’s true that you can’t win them all, but don’t tell that to the Chicago Blackhawks because they aren’t listening.


The Edmonton Oilers began their nine-game road trip on Monday night in Chicago against the best team in the NHL. The Blackhawks squeaked out a 3-2 overtime win over the Oilers to remain the only team to collect at least one point through their first 19 games of the season, improving their record to 16-0-3.


Marian Hossa was the overtime hero for the Blackhawks, after he gathered Patrick Sharp’s rebound in font of Nikolai Khabibulin and stuffed the puck past the sprawling goaltender at 1:44 of the overtime period to keep the Blackhawks’ record-setting streak alive.


Both teams came out jumping in the first period; however, for the majority of the game, the Oilers looked like they would be the team to finally halt the winning ways of the unstoppable Blackhawks.


Just over four minutes into the opening period, the Oilers opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal by defenseman Jeff Petry. After Duncan Keith tripped on his own skates in the neutral zone, Oilers forward Lennart Petrel collected the loose puck and broke in all alone on goalie Ray Emery. Emery got just enough of Petrel’s shot to keep the puck out, but everybody forgot about Petry, who followed the play and slapped the rebound into the wide-open net above Emery’s head.


With Magnus Paajarvi still serving his penalty for clearing the puck into the stands, Patrick Kane quickly responded with a goal of his own on the same powerplay. Kane grabbed the puck off the side boards in the Oilers zone, drove to the net and caught Khabibulin off guard with a shot through traffic to tie the score 1-1.


The Blackhawks began to outplay the Oilers in the second period, and Khabibulin kept the Oilers in the game with some diligent goaltending. But despite the lackluster effort by the Oilers in the second frame, the score remained tied until the 14:17 mark of the period when Nail Yakupov received a swift pass from Sam Gagner on the powerplay and one-timed his sixth goal of the season passed Emery for another Oilers’ lead.


But the Blackhawks are not the type of team that just gives up, and their persistence paid off early in the third period when Viktor Stalberg threw a hopeful shot at the net that sneaked under the pad of Khabibulin to tie the score.


The Blackhawks were all over the Oilers in the third period, and Khabibulin continued his fantastic goaltending to keep the score even. The Oilers played scared for most of the third period, as they neglected to get the puck deep into the Blackhawks’ end and gave up the puck in the neutral zone time and time again.

Oilers begin road trip with OT loss to relentless Hawks
Chicago Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa scores the game winning goal on Edmonton Oilers’ Nikolai Khabibulin as Oilers’ Sam Gagner looks on during the overtime of their NHL hockey game in Chicago, Illinois, February 25, 2013.
(REUTERS/Jim Young)

During one rare incident of sustained pressure by the Oilers in the Blackhawks’ zone, Johnny Oduya was assessed a two-minute penalty for slashing the stick out of Jordan Eberle’s hands. On the subsequent powerplay, Yakupov received another great pass at the side of the net, but rang a shot off the post.


Nevertheless, after getting out-chanced and outshot in the third period, the Oilers were lucky enough to get into overtime and salvage a point against the relentless Blackhawks.


With the overtime loss, the Oilers’ record falls to 7-7-4.


Taylor Hall will return to the lineup on Thursday against the Dallas Stars after his two-game suspension for his knee-on-knee hit on Cal Clutterbuck. After the game in Dallas, the Oilers will face the Minnesota Wild for the first time since the infamous Hall-Clutterbuck incident. Payback anyone?


Evan Davits

Evan Davits

I grew up playing hockey on the roads, outdoor rinks, and ice surfaces of various arenas in Edmonton and around Northern Alberta. Now, I am a father of three and a journalism student at MacEwan University in Edmonton. My words are often brutally honest and critical; however, I have never been the type to shy away from sarcasm and humour.
Evan Davits
Evan Davits

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