Edmonton Oilers

Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on Monday:

1. Blackhawks are in the win column

The Blackhawks said after morning skate that they weren't going to "freak out" about their 0-2-1 start despite talking all training camp long about how they didn't want to dig a hole in October. Still, Monday felt like a game they had to win going into a three-day break because they have to start generating some positive vibes within the locker room.

And they did just that.

The Blackhawks handed the Oilers their first loss of the season (5-1-0), but more importantly, they're finally in the win column for the 2019-20 campaign.

"We played really well," Corey Crawford said. "I think everyone was going. Guys were coming back to help out defensively, and just a good team effort. The PK was strong, even though we gave up that one [late], it was strong early in the game. Just nice to win the first one."

2. Second period? That's more like it

The Blackhawks have been happy with their first periods this season. They've been mostly happy with their thirds. It's the middle frame that's been their downfall.

The team addressed those struggles as a team the morning of the game, and they certainly responded.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (32-8), even-strength scoring chances (16-6), even-strength high danger chances (5-4) and, of course, the goal column (1-0) in the second period. That's more like it.

"That was the message today from the coaches was how much better we need to be in the second," Connor Murphy said. "We showed examples of when we've done that in the past and what it takes. I think we were just better at staying on our toes and we drew some penalties and got on the forecheck quick and kept their goalie from being able to make plays and for them to be able to come up ice."

3. Corey Crawford shines

You could've made a good argument that Robin Lehner should've started this game, especially coming off a solid outing on Saturday and his career numbers against the Oilers (5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .943 save percentage). But the coaching staff went with Crawford and it proved to be the correct decision.

Crawford stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964 and faced nine high-danger chances at 5-on-5, none of which found the back of the net. His lone goal against came with 2:11 left in regulation and it was on a 6-on-4 power play for the Oilers. Overall, he was fantastic.

"He looked sharp as ever," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He was really good. He did make some saves for us. That team has some weapons so they had some opportunities and he was there and just he's under control. It's something I've said about him before, he really gives the team confidence. I thought tonight he was really good."

4. Blackhawks shut down Oilers' top guns

The first line of Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid went into Monday tied for the most goals scored as a trio. When the three of them are on the ice at 5-on-5, they're controlling 57.1 percent of the shot attempts, 61.2 percent of the scoring chances and 68.8 percent of the high danger chances.

The Blackhawks held them in check. That line had 14 shot attempts for and 20 against at 5-on-5 and were on the ice for 11 scoring chances. The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad did a terrific job of shutting them down.

"They all just got real big motors, big engine," Colliton said of the Saad-Kampf-Kubalik line. "They work and compete and they all bring a little bit different ingredient. ... Pleased with that line."

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Instant reaction: Blackhawks pick up first win of season, hand Oilers first loss

Instant reaction: Blackhawks pick up first win of season, hand Oilers first loss

FINAL SCORE:

Blackhawks 3, Oilers 1

Snap judgments:

— The Blackhawks got off to another strong start in the first period even though it was a 0-0 game through the first 20 minutes. They generated 12 scoring chances at 5-on-5 to Edmonton's five, according to Natural Stat Trick. 

— The Blackhawks absolutely dominated the second period, which is something they haven't been able to do this season. They led in shot attempts (32-8), shots on goal (17-6) and took a 1-0 lead into the third period. It was exactly what they've been talking about doing, but this time they actually did it.

— Corey Crawford was spectacular. He was on his way to a shutout before the Oilers scored with 2:11 left in regulation, but was sharp from the moment the puck dropped and finished with 27 saves.

— The Oilers were 5-0-0 going into Monday's game and trailed in each of those five games. The Blackhawks did a great job of sustaining their early third-period push.

Three stars:

1. Blackhawks G Corey Crawford — Stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964

2. Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane — One goal, five shot attempts (two on goal) in 19:21 of ice time

3. Oilers G Mike Smith — Stopped 32 of 34 shots for a save percentage of .941

Must-see highlights:

— Kane's second goal of the season

— Andrew Shaw drops the hammer

— Alex Nylander's second goal as a Blackhawk

What's next:

The Blackhawks host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago.

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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.