The Oilers gather to celebrate Taylor Hall's power-play goal in the second period of Saturday night's game vs. the Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers won the game 9-2. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club.)
The Oilers' attack exploded, potting nine goals past Chicago's Ray Emery and Corey Crawford to down the Blackhawks 9-2 Saturday night.
48 seconds into the game, the Oilers got on the board, reversing the trend and going up early during this four-game losing skid. Ales Hemsky took a bank pass near the Blackhawks bench, escaped the hip-check attempt by Chicago's Steve Montador, and scooted in goal as he deposited a shot upstairs, glove-side on Ray Emery.
With the goal, Hemsky recorded his 400th career NHL point.
At 2:07, Ryan Smyth was charged with a questionable hooking call, sending Chicago's 18.8-percent power-play to work. It took the Blackhawks 57 seconds to cash and equal the score. A shot by Patrick Kane struck Nikolai Khabibulin's goal-post and bounced into the slot, where Patrick Sharp pounced and hammered the puck past the 38-year-old veteran at 2:59.
The Oilers soon regained the one-goal advantage. Ryan Jones burst down the wing at 5:47, beating Blackhawks D man Duncan Keith wide and delivering a well-placed backhand shot on Emery. The comeback 'tender squeezed the shot, but it eluded his grasp and trickled across the line for the goal.
On the Oilers' ninth shot at 7:32, the home side went up 3-1. Jordan Eberle scooped a loose puck in the Blackhawks end, bulled his way across the slot and fed a clever cross-crease pass to Smyth at the doorstep; No. 94 connected, sliding the puck past Emery to put the orange and blue up by a pair.
The goal prompted Chicago Head Coach Joel Quenneville to call a make-do timeout and settle his troops. Emery was also replaced with Corey Crawford during the 30-second break; the starting goalie managed a mere six saves on the Oilers' nine attempts.
As the period's 10-minute mark passed, the Oilers continued to dominate with a decided territorial advantage, leading 3-1 on the scoreboard and extending to a 10-6 edge on the shot clock.
Duncan Keith's Alberta struggle continued at 12:07 when he cranked Taylor Hall with a vicious check from behind, earning him boarding minor. Like the Hawks' quick-strike power-play, the Oilers did the same. A snapshot by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins caused a rebound to pop to the doorstep, allowing Hall to hammer home his fourth of the season, snapping a nine-game goalless streak 31 seconds into the man-advantage.
Incredibly, the Oilers added another to go up 5-1 late in the period. Ryan Smyth and Jeff Petry joined forces to dislodge the puck in their own end, springing Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on a promising end-to-end rush.
RNH broke up the middle, curled to the near side and located a streaking Jordan Eberle with a heads-up pass at the hashmarks; Eberle corralled the puck for a moment, but released a shot under the bar, beating a sprawling Crawford and bringing the sold-out Rexall Place crowd into a craze once more at 15:41.
Ryan Jones picked up a delay of game (puck over the glass) minor at 16:40, putting the Blackhawks' 1-for-1 power-play back onto the ice. The orange and blue, however, improved on their running 87.8-percent PK success rate, killing the infraction with ease to head into the intermission with a commanding 5-1 lead.
It wasn't quite as dominant, but the home side also carried a 16-12 shot lead into the break.
His counterpart didn't do much better, so Ray Emery was back between the pipes to start the period for the Blackhawks.
Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff was assessed a holding minor only 26 seconds into the period, sending Chicago to its third power-play chance. The Blackhawks tested Khabibulin with a pair of cross-box opportunities, but were unable to solve the goalie as the Oilers' 5-1 lead continued to grace the scoreboard.
The man-advantage tables turned moments later when Patrick Kane was charged with high-sticking -- a double-minor, when he clipped Petry deep in the Oilers' zone at 3:20. With 2:02 remaining in the chance, Dave Bolland held Hemsky, putting the Oilers on a two-minute 5-on-3 opportunity.
Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins played catch, passing back-and-forth behind the Blackhawks cage before No. 93 placed a pass into the slot, teeing up a shot for Tom Gilbert. The 27-year-old ripped a bullet, beating Emery under the bar to secure a 6-1 Oilers lead.
The home side extended to 22-16 shot advantage as the midway point passed, continuing the territorial domination in the process. It helped, too, that Chicago continued the two-sided parade to the box; Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell was assessed a delay of game (puck over glass) minor at 10:15.
Make it seven. Tom Gilbert's point shot went wide, but Hall was quick to the scene, cashing his second of the night with a doorstep tap-in to put the Oilers ahead 7-1 at 12:09.
Ben Eager was assessed a hooking minor 11 seconds later, putting the Hawks on their fifth power-play chance. On Chicago's 17th shot, they brought the score a bit closer; Bolland's slapper from the top of the circle redirected off Gilbert and pinpalled into the net behind Khabibulin at 13:55.
With 3:18 to play, Steve Montador's wide-side wrister beat Khabibulin and appeared to make it a 7-3 game, but it was deemed that Daniel Carcillo had prevented the goalie from making the save, so the goal was called back by referee Brad Meier.
At 18:28, Kane was charged with unsportsmanlike conduct minor when, when a call didn't go his way, he complained to the Meier and Kelly Sutherland. 25 seconds into the power-play, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins hacked and whacked at the loose puck, allowing the Oilers' captain to pounce and pot his fourth of the season to extend his team's lead to 8-2.
With assists on the goal, RNH and Eberle had now accumulated four points each.
Theo Peckham was charged with high-sticking at 19:22, putting Chicago back on the power-play, searching to crack the Oilers' six-goal lead. 1:22 would be carried into third period; so, too, would the Oilers' six-goal lead and 27-21 lead on the shot clock.
Up 28-24 in shots, the Oilers went back to the power-play at 5:10 when Ben Eager drew a tripping penalty on Chicago's Jamal Mayers. Obviously still productive, but the orange and blue dropped to a 3-for-5 success rate and were unable able to generate a pair of shots on Emery.
With 10:39 to play, Hall took a pass from Nugent-Hopkins, stepped across the Blackhawks blueline and rifled a snapshot up top on Emery, putting the Oilers ahead 9-2 on his second-career NHL hat trick.
Not only did hats rain down at Rexall Place, but the 16,839 in attendance started a chant not expected to be heard against this potent Chicago squad: "We want 10! We want 10!"
With 8:18 on the clock, the crowd cheered once more; this time when Theo Peckham and Daniel Carcillo went toe-to-toe at centre ice in a spirited, minute-long tussle. The pair grappled and danced, but late in the bout, No. 24 landed several shots to earn the decision.
Peckham was also assessed an instigating minor and game misconduct for jumping in when when Carcillo originally intended to engage Ales Hemsky; the result, a two-minute power-play for the visitors. The Oilers killed that, too, and the team's 9-2 lead carried into the game's waning moments.
The remaining seconds elapsed as the crowd rose, cheering the Oilers to the buzzer in a dominating 9-2 win.