Edmonton Oilers

Four takeaways: Blackhawks erupt in Edmonton as playoff talks heat up

Four takeaways: Blackhawks erupt in Edmonton as playoff talks heat up

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Tuesday:

1. Special teams-filled first period

The Blackhawks and Oilers had a busy first 20 minutes. They combined for six penalties, which led to a whole lot of action, particularly during the latter stages of the period.

Erik Gustafsson scored on the power play — his third goal in two games after going scoreless in his previous 15 — to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 1:55 into the game. The road team was in total control.

But in the final four minutes, the Blackhawks committed four minor penalties and handed the Oilers several man advantages, including a 5-on-3 opportunity. Leon Draisaitl converted on two of the power plays, both of which were assisted by Connor McDavid, as the Oilers went into the intermission with a 2-1 lead. They had outshot the Blackhawks 12-1 over that multiple power-play span.

2. Third period explosion

After a dull second period, the Blackhawks absolutely erupted in the third period. And the Oilers completely unraveled.

The Blackhawks scored five consecutive goals, including three in a 2:10 span, to put themselves up 6-2 before Edmonton even knew what hit them. John Hayden, Dylan Strome, Patrick Kane, Drake Caggiula and Dominik Kahun all got in on the action for the Blackhawks, who outshot the Oilers 14-4 in the final 20 minutes.

Going into Tuesday, the Blackhawks had only two wins in 24 tries when leading after two periods for a win percentage of .083, which ranked sixth-worst. They also handed the Oilers just their second regulation loss when leading after two periods this season after going 12-1-3 in their previous 16 occurrences.

In total, the Blackhawks had 22 shot attempts (14 on goal), 11 scoring chances and six high-danger chances, according the naturalstattrick. The Oilers had 12 attempts (four on goal), five scoring chances and one high-danger chance.

It's only the third time this season the Blackhawks did not allow a goal at even strength. Both of the Oilers' tallies came on the power play.

3. Four-line rotation

Perhaps the best part of this Blackhawks offensive outburst is that it came from everyone. All 12 forwards got on the scoresheet, except for David Kampf who left in the second period with a right foot injury.

The fourth line was particularly strong. The trio of Hayden, Chris Kunitz and Marcus Kruger drew a penalty in the first period that led to a Blackhawks power-play goal, and Hayden's goal is the one that started the offensive explosion. 

The Blackhawks have been top heavy all season long, so it's certainly encouraging to see all four lines chip in on offense. It's the third time in five games the team has scored at least six goals during their winning streak. That'll work.

4. Erie Otters reunion

On Monday night, there was an Erie Otters reunion in Edmonton before the actual game on Tuesday as former linemates Alex DeBrincat, Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome all grabbed dinner together to catch up. 

The trio put up ridiculous numbers together in the OHL. Strome is the Otters' all-time leading points scorer at 354, DeBrincat is second at 332 and McDavid is fourth at 285.

"They're probably two of the closest guys I've ever seen," McDavid told reporters before the game on the relationship of DeBrincat and Strome. "They love each other off the ice. They love to play with each other on the ice. It's a connection that they both really like."

DeBrincat registered an assist against the Oilers to extend his point streak to six games. Strome scored his fourth goal in six games. And McDavid recorded a pair of primary assists. It was a productive night for the former Erie trio.

Blackhawks trade Brandon Manning to Oilers in multi-player deal

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AP

Blackhawks trade Brandon Manning to Oilers in multi-player deal

The Blackhawks have shuffled the cards on defense over the last several weeks, and now they're slowly trying to clear the decks and make room for their prospects to play bigger roles.

After being a healthy scratch for the past eight games, Brandon Manning was traded to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday along with defenseman prospect Robin Norell in exchange for 24-year-old forward Drake Caggiula and 34-year-old defenseman Jason Garrison.

It's a move largely motivated to clear Manning's $2.25 million cap hit next season, and the Blackhawks successfully did so without having to retain salary or attach a noted prospect — Norell spent three seasons with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League from 2015-18 before getting sent back to Djurgardens IF in Sweden this year. It also gives Manning a fresh start elsewhere on a less crowded blue line.

As far as the return, Caggiula is the most noteworthy player coming to Chicago. He has 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in 29 games with the Oilers this season, spending a good amount of time playing on a line with two-time Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid.

The two of them played 144:21 minutes together at even strength and controlled 56.5 percent of the shot attempts when they were both on the ice, according to naturalstattrick.com. When Caggiula was away from McDavid, that percentage dropped to 45.3.

Caggiula, who led North Dakota to the 2016 NCAA Championship and was named the Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player, is capable of playing in the top-six and he's clearly more effective playing with skilled players, but is better suited in a third-line role on a good team. He can also play wing or center, making him a versatile option in the lineup. He carries a $1.5 million cap hit, which runs through the 2019-20 season when he becomes a restricted free agent.

Garisson has played in only 25 NHL games over the last two seasons with the Vegas Golden Knights and Oilers after playing 58 games in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves last year. He has one point in 17 games this season and has seen his ice time dip to an average of 12:42 per game, which is a career low.

Garrison, who has a cap hit of $650,000, is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He is likely to end up in Rockford with Brandon Davidson (knee) nearing a return and Henri Jokiharju coming back after the IIHF World Junior Championship wraps up.

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks wrap up busy stretch with overtime loss to Oilers

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks wrap up busy stretch with overtime loss to Oilers

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Connor McDavid's overtime winner

The Blackhawks held McDavid off the scoresheet for 60 minutes. Usually that would be enough to get it done, as he's gone only one game this season without recording a point and it was a 3-0 loss.

But they couldn't keep him down in overtime, scoring the winner 53 seconds into it after burying a pass from Leon Draisaitl. McDavid has 17 points through 10 games and is surely going to be in the Art Ross Trophy discussion all season long.

2. Blackhawks get away with slow start

The Blackhawks, who were playing in their sixth game in nine days and the second of a back-to-back, were awarded three power-plays in the first period, which occurred within the opening 11 minutes.

Brent Seabrook cashed in on a 5-on-3 opportunity, converting on the Blackhawks' first shot on goal of the game at the 11:02 mark. They finished with four shots on goal in the first period, and got away with it being a 1-1 tie at intermission even though Zack Kassian scored with 1:34 remaining.

"I think if either team would’ve been A-plus tonight they would have had the puck a lot more," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But I still thought we were playing the game that was out there. Last period, last period and a half, I thought we were better. We were ordinary in the first period, but I thought we were OK the last two periods." 

3. Patrick Kane extends point streak

It didn't take too long for Kane to get back on the scoresheet. With a primary assist on Seabrook's goal, Kane has now picked up at least a point in 11 of 12 games this season and stretched his point streak to six games.

He trails Mikko Rantanen for the NHL lead in points with 18 total, and remains atop the leaderboard in goals (11).

4. Nick Schmaltz is a takeaway machine

It wouldn't be a complete takeaways piece without an actual takeaway reference, right? Going into Sunday's game, Schmaltz had 10 takeaways on the season. He had four against the Oilers, three of which came in the second period alone. It was a terrific defensive display.

His 14 takeaways trails Mark Scheifele by one for the league lead in that department.