EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers got a three-point night from Derek Roy and scored two goals in the final 3:09 to hand the visiting Chicago Blackhawks a 5-2 loss.
“He had a great night, I thought that line had a great night,” Oilers Interim Coach Todd Nelson said. “I thought all three players played exceptionally well. I thought Derek’s work ethic was just exceptional. He was working back hard on the backcheck and he was contributing offensively so it was a really solid game.”
In the first, Oilers defenceman Nikita Nikitin turned the puck over at the offensive blue line and Jonathan Toews picked it up with steam. Toews led Chicago on a 2-on-1 rush and shot the puck on Ben Scrivens. The Oilers goaltender made the save but Brandon Saad was there to put away the second chance. The goal, at 7:34 of the first, gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead. Marian Hossa earned the second assist.
The Oilers got the equalizer just 1:18 after that score. Benoit Pouliot and Roy went to the net and kept after a loose puck to the side of Antti Raanta. Pouliot found the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. Roy recorded the lone assist.
Roy got his goal at 13:35 of the first. With David Rundblad in the box for a high stick of Matt Fraser, the Oilers took their first lead of the night with a power play tally. A beautiful feed by Teddy Purcell out in front was redirected in by the stick of a streaking Roy. Anton Lander earned an assist on the play for setting up Purcell with a nice feed of his own. The assist gives Lander a three-game point streak.
Another 2-on-1 rush allowed Chicago to even things up, at 5:47 of the second period. It was eerily similar to the Blackhawks first period goal, with Saad scoring his second of the night on another rebound. This time however, the initial shot came from Hossa and Toews got the second assist.
The Oilers responded quickly with Jeff Petry burying a rebound opportunity at 6:33, just 46 seconds following the Blackhawks goal. Nail Yakupov and Roy recorded the assists. Roy earned himself a three-point night with the helper as the Oilers took a 3-2 lead. Roy has tallied five points in six games with the Oilers, since being acquired in a trade with Nashville on December 29.
That kind of response from the Oilers shows their progress as a team in recent weeks.
“I think you’re seeing that with us that when we’re down, when the chips are down, I think we’re starting to rely on our system and then our skill shows through that. Instead of being individualistic, we’re coming together and playing the game as it is. I think that’s helping out a lot,” Oilers winger Taylor Hall said.
“It was a great sign that we bounced back right away," Nelson said. "That’s good to see and hopefully that continues and keeps on maturing in that direction. Once they scored, our guys just stuck with it and got rewarded.”
Knowing the Blackhawks and their offensive power, the Oilers needed more than a one-goal lead to breathe easy. The relief came at 16:51 of the third period. Nail Yakupov scored on a 2-on-0 breakaway to give the Oilers a 4-2 lead. Hall earned the assist on Yakupov’s first goal since December 7.
“I thought we did a good job to keep making plays and keep getting pucks out and pucks in and not giving them many chances,” Roy said. “I thought our D played exceptionally well and we kept pinching and played aggressive in the third and that’s what we need to do.”
Hall put away an empty netter at 17:34 to give the Oilers even more cushion and seal the 5-2 win.
“It feels great,” Hall said. “They’re a great team and they have so much skill and they’re kind of a team we want to play like eventually. They play with so much tempo and speed. For tonight, we were able to match that for the most part and that’s a good sign for us.”