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‘Dangerous’ Oilers up to challenge, but Hawks emerge unscathed

EdmontOilers v Chicago Blackhawks

Edmonton Oilers v Chicago Blackhawks

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Updated: November 10, 2013 11:50PM



If the Blackhawks were getting ready to line up against a group of wobbly toddlers on skates, Joel Quenneville probably would call them a “dangerous team.” Like any coach in any sport, he’s wary of underestimating and overlooking an opponent, and so just about every team that crosses the Hawks’ path gets that label.

Even the Edmonton Oilers — dead last in the Western Conference.

Only this time, you know Quenneville meant it when he called them a “dangerous team” — twice — before the game.

“We seem to bring the best out of them,” he said.

And yes, once again, the lowly Oilers gave the Hawks all they could handle Sunday night at the United Center, as the Hawks held on for a harrowing 5-4 victory.

“These guys have a great track record against us,” said Bryan Bickell, one of five Hawks to score. “A couple games last year they hit us pretty good, and we kind of wanted revenge. We’re just happy to get the two points.”

The win gives the Hawks 13 points over their last seven games. And while it was the fifth time in those seven games that they scored at least five goals, they spread the wealth in this one instead of leaning on the red-hot top line.

Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist, and Andrew Shaw, Bickell, Marcus Kruger and Duncan Keith tallied for the Hawks.

Corey Crawford also stopped a penalty shot against noted Hawks-killer Sam Gagner, steering him wide on the second-period attempt. Crawford is now 3-for-3 on the season and 8-for-8 on in his career.

“We always look at every guy’s penalty shots before the game, to keep it in the back of your mind,” Crawford said. “But for the most part, it’s read and react. I kind of felt that move was coming, so when he went to the backhand, I was ready to push the other side before he even got there.”

Saad broke his five-game pointless streak with two jaw-dropping plays. He had the lone goal of the first period, somehow one-timing a puck out of midair. Brandon Pirri’s pass was deflected in front, soared over Patrick Kane’s head, and just before it hit the ice, Saad drilled it past Devan Dubnyk for a 1-0 lead. After the Oilers took a 2-1 lead midway through the second, Saad set up Shaw with the tying goal on a perfect no-look pass from the corner to the doorstep.

“He’s got some nice plays, nice play recognition, and it’s nice to see the finish,” Quenneville said.

After Bickell and David Perron traded goals, Kruger gave the Hawks a 4-3 lead, then Keith scored on the power play to make it 5-3. But the Oilers, as always, didn’t go away easily, getting a shorthanded goal from Jordan Eberle with 1:28 to go.

“They’re a good team, they’ve got a lot of skill and a good power play, and we tend to get out of our game plan against them,” Saad said.

There was a scary moment late as Michal Rozsival — while on the bench — was hit in the mouth with a puck off the stick of Perron. Rozsival was knocked over and bloodied. Quenneville said he’ll be OK, but that he’ll need some work done.

Meanwhile, a night after killing off all six Dallas power plays, the Hawks went 0-for-2 on the penalty kill. And Crawford, despite his penalty-shot heroics, made just 19 saves in a ragged defensive outing.

Just a typical night against the West’s worst, who always seem to be at their best against the Hawks.

“We seem to make a few more mistakes against these guys than we should, and they’re able to capitalize,” Keith said. “Coming in here, back-to-back games with travel from Dallas, it feels good to be able to find a way to win.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus



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