Thursday, April 25, 2013

Game 46: Chicago 4 Edmonton 1

It was the best vs the worst matchup on Wednesday night at Rexall Place, as the Chicago Blackhawks paid a visit to the struggling Edmonton Oilers. Three point efforts from Patrick Kane and Michal Handzus proved to be more than enough, as the Blackhawks strolled their way to a 4-1 victory and clinching the President's Trophy as the top team in the National Hockey League.

Much like Nikolai Khabibulin did on Monday night against the Anaheim Ducks, Devan Dubnyk kept this one respectable. The Oilers starter was simply outstanding over the final forty minutes, keeping his team with in striking distance, in a game they truly had absolutely no business being in.

Give Edmonton credit for putting together a fairly solid opening twenty minutes of hockey, something which hasn't been seen for weeks in this neck of the woods. It was end-to-end action from the drop of puck, with Jonathan Toews snapping home his twenty-second of the season at the 3:58 mark, to open the scoring.

The Oilers would respond less than a minute later, as Nail Yakupov ripped home his twelfth of year past Ray Emery, to even things at one. The youngster continues to impress, as he makes his way up the rookie scoring race, while electrifying the Rexall faithful on a near nightly basis. The former first overall pick pulled off the ol' soccer celebration after wiring a rocket to the back of the Blackhawks net, giving the Oilers logo on his chest a kiss during his celly.

Unfortunately for Ralph Krueger's crew, it took Patrick Kane all of 3:21 to restore the lead, after a brutal turnover from Taylor Hall at the Chicago blueline. Kane made it look easy, slipping home his twenty-second of the season, after opening up Dubnyk with a nifty little move on a clear-cut breakaway.

Emery would be forced to leave the game just over five minutes later with an undisclosed injury, bringing in a cold Corey Crawford for the remainder of the night. Edmonton could only muster up another three shots before the period was out, none of which were difficult to handle for the Blackhawks netminder.

From that point on, it was all Chicago. Outside of Crawford robbing Jordan Eberle with an absolutely ridiculous glove save early in the second period, it was the Devan Dubnyk show. While the Hawks did not pepper the Oilers starter with a ton of shots, nearly everyone was a point blank opportunity. Be it from guys that were repeatedly left all alone in the slot or one of the many odd man rushes, #40 was left to fend for himself.

The wall would finally break at the 4:36 mark of period three, as Johnny Oduya snapped home his third of the year, on you guessed it, an odd man rush. After watching the Hawks break out of their zone on a three-on-two break, Hall busted his tail to get back into the play and make it a three-on-three. Unfortunately, neither one of Eberle or Sam Gagner felt the need to match #4's drive to get back into his own zone, watching Oduya join the rush late and making it a 3-1 game.

Patrick Sharp would close out the scoring with an empty netter, after out muscling what seemed to be an almost disinterested Jeff Petry along the sideboards, before flipping home his sixth of the campaign.

The loss leaves Edmonton with a single victory in their last ten and the worst home record in the entire league at 8-11-4. The Florida Panthers finished off their home schedule with an 8-11-5 mark, meaning the Oilers will need a victory on Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks, in order to avoid finishing with the NHL's poorest home mark for the third time in four years.

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