Memo to the rest of the NHL: It is a very bad idea to take penalties against the Blackhawks. The Oilers gave the ‘Hawks a man advantage five times in the game, and the ‘Hawks scored on four of those advantages. Their fourth power play goal came from the fourth line when Craig Adams beat Dwayne Roloson short side. Patrick Kane, Brian Campbell, and Troy Brouwer got the other power play goals. The ‘Hawks scored in a variety of ways: set face-off plays, scrambles in front, tic-tac-toe passing.
The game started off with both teams giving up way too many excellent scoring chances. Khabibulin stood tall as Brent Seabrook and Cam Barker took turns playing the role of turnstile. Andrew Cogliano was turned away on a point blank shot after Barker rolled out the red carpet, and Dustin Penner missed the net when he was in alone. Penner then proceeded to play the quietest 16 minutes you’ll ever see. The ‘Hawks had their chances, too. Craig Adams was turned away on a 2-on-1, and Patrick Kane had a nice opportunity, only to have the door slammed shut by Matheiu Garon. The ‘Hawks chances were the results of the Oilers’ overagressiveness, and the Oilers; were from the ‘Hawks sloppy defensive play. When the Oilers took their first penalty, the ‘Hawks didn’t waste any time in making them pay. Patrick Sharp won the draw back to Cam Barker, who gave it back to Sharp when he cut across the slot. Sharp one touched it to Kane ,who took a couple strides in and roofed the puck over Garon. (Thanks to WGN for allowing us to watch this goal live. Wait… [Bob]) The ‘Hawks scored their second goal when Andrew Ladd won a puck in the corner and looked up to see Colin Fraser streaking down the slot and three Oilers staring at him. Ladd put it right on Fraser’s stick, and Fraser then had enough time to drag the puck towards his body and beat Garon low to the stick side.
The Oilers came out strong in the beginning of the 2nd period, and Khabibulin stood tall once again. He helped keep the lead warm until Edmonton went back to taking penalties. Brian Campbell made them pay again when he walked in from the blue line and rifled it over Garon’s shoulder (notice a trend?) while Byfuglien provided the screen. Later, Edmonton finally cracked the ‘Bulin wall when Shawn Horcoff scored on the power play. With the momentum swung fully in the Oilers’ favor, Khabibulin was more than up to the task. He made several saves in that seven minute sequence that could have completely changed the outcome of the game. Instead, he turned them away, the Oilers kept taking penalties, and this time, Troy Brouwer scored on a rebound off a Duncan Keith one-timer. Twenty-one seconds later, Kris Versteeg scored off another set face-off play, the flood gates opened, and Garon found his way to the end of the bench.
James Wisniewski came back with a flurry adding three assists and looked like he hadn’t played defense in the NHL in eight months. Early in the first, he was caught playing way too close to his partner, Matt Walker, and Edmonton took the play wide and had an excellent scoring chance only to be stymied by Khabibulin (notice another trend?). Brent Seabrook looked atrocious in the first period, but to his credit, picked up his play in the final two periods. The same could not be said for Cam Barker. No matter what Steve Konroyd says, Barker has become a liability at the back end and is only valuable to the ‘Hawks when they’re on the man advantage. At this point, Matt Walker inspires more confidence in his own zone than Barker, not a good thing to say about the third overall pick.