CHICAGO - The Oilers came into tonight's game looking to end a lengthy scoreless slump after being shut out in their last two games in Detroit and Nashville respectively.
They got all that and more in a high-scoring affair that saw the Oilers defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 when all the dust settled.
"I thought it was just a great effort," said captain Shawn Horcoff, who had a goal in his first game back into the lineup. "I thought guys won battles. They really peppered us for a bit there but they're a good team. It's not so much that we sat back they just made plays."
The Oilers raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first period but Chicago chipped away at it and, coupled with an injury to Devan Dubnyk in the second period, created a nail-biting third period.
"There were instances where we could be a little more patient with the puck and change our play under certain circumstances to alleviate pressure but we're young and we'll learn," Horcoff continued. "We'll be better in that area going forward."
The loss was only Chicago's second in regulation all season long (in 25 games) and second straight. It was also Chicago's first regulation loss on home ice where they were 11-0-1 heading into tonight's contest.
Sam Gagner had a pair of goals to lead the way for Edmonton, who had five different players put up two points.
"We're obviously not happy with the way the trip's gone as a whole, especially the last two," said Gagner. "We wanted an emotional response and we realized that we have to be better. We have to play that way on a consistent basis. For us, it's a great way to get on a roll here and we have to do the same things to make us successful."
About two minutes into the game, Teemu Hartikainen muscled his way to the net for a couple of shots on goal in-close in what was the best early scoring chance of the game for either side.
That momentum carried over to the very next shift. Mike Brown scored on a wrist shot from the top of the left circle to give the Oilers an early 1-0 lead.
The goal by Brown was his first as an Oiler and first since February 29, 2012 -- a 23-game scoreless drought.
30 seconds later, Sam Gagner had a great chance in the slot but just narrowly missed the mark as the Oilers continued to attack. The puck then cycled back to the high slot where Magnus Paajarvi fed a pass over to Gagner at the left side of the net. This time, Gagner made no mistake, rifling it past Blackhawks starting goaltender Ray Emery for Edmonton's second of the game, 36 seconds after Brown's goal and only three minutes into the game.
Shots on goal nearly nine minutes into the game were 7-2 for Edmonton as they got off to their fastest start of the season.
Just before the opening period's midway point, the Oilers extended their lead to 3-0. Ryan Whitney pinched down low and was spotted by Taylor Hall with a seeing-eye pass across the ice. Whitney made no mistake, firing a wrist shot behind Emery.
The Whitney goal chased Emery from the net as he was replaced by Corey Crawford.
Jamal Mayers drops the gloves and goes after Mike Brown but the Oilers forward doesn't comply. The result is a Mayers penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and Oilers power play.
The Oilers made it 4-0 20 seconds into the power play. Whitney spotted Gagner cruising up the middle. Gagner slipped in behind the Blackhawks defence and decked out Crawford for the goal.
Shots on goal after the first period of play were 12 to 5 for Edmonton.
Just past the five-minute mark of the second period, Dubnyk skated out to play the puck but was beaten to it by Patrick Kane. Kane then skated along the side boards before driving to the net and put the puck past the lone defender, Ryan Whitney.
Two minutes later, Jonathan Toews beat Jeff Petry wide and skated in behind the net before spotting Hossa in the slot. Hossa put the puck in to narrow the gap to two.
On the very next shift, Nick Leddy took a holding penalty, giving Edmonton their second man advantage of the game and an opportunity to steal back the momentum.
On the penalty kill, Hossa plowed into Dubnyk on a scoring opportunity for the Blackhawks. Dubnyk made a nice save, kicking out his left pad but was shaken up on the play. He needed to be tended to by the Oilers training staff and was replaced in goal by Yann Danis.
"We know they're a good team and we knew they weren't going to give it to us," said Danis. "They came hard and I expected that. I just tried to take it one shot at a time and not to get too carried away with what was going on."
After the game, head coach Ralph Krueger gave an update on Dubnyk's status.
"Devan Dubnyk, it was a safety call now," he said. "We don't see any signs of head injury. We don't see anything but a situation where there was a lot of risk in putting him back in there because it's an injury with that impact it needs some time overnight before we assess him in the morning. We don't see anything serious yet."
The power play continued as Horcoff was stationed in front of the net and converted a feed across the ice by Nugent-Hopkins to get the Oilers a three-goal lead once again at 5-2.
The momentum continued to go Edmonton's way. Hemsky broke in all alone on Crawford and tried the deke but just missed the mark. Duncan Keith slashed Hemsky on the play and received two minutes for his efforts.
On the ensuing man advantage, the Blackhawks skated down the ice on a two-on-one shorthanded opportunity. Danis made the first save on Hossa and the rebound by Brookbank but the puck then went in off Brookbank's chest and found its way into the back of the net.
The Oilers got that goal back in less than a minute. Nugent-Hopkins fired a shot from the left circle that was redirected into the back of the net by Hall.
The scoring parade continued 1:06 later. Brent Seabrook took a feed from Kane and fired it past Danis to draw the Blackhawks back within a pair once again.
Shots after two periods were 26 to 21 for the Blackhawks.
Smid hammered Andrew Shaw into the boards away from the play and received an interference penalty as a result, giving Chicago their first power play of the game six minutes into the third period.
About 90 seconds into the man advantage, Dave Bolland spotted Kane at the right circle where he made no mistake, wristing it past Danis to draw the Blackhawks to within a goal.
With 7:45 to play, Danis made a nice save off Brookbank from point-blank range off the rush and on the same play, Nick Schultz was penalized for playing with a broken stick to give Chicago the man advantage with a chance to tie the game but the Oilers penalty killers and Danis were able to step up and maintain the one-goal lead.
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