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Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Hawks shut down Oilers' potent power play

By Ryan Dittrick
Special to ESPNChicago.com

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Chicago Blackhawks came into Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers with one of the NHL’s worst penalty kills, but that mattered little on this night.

It was their success on special teams that ultimately led to a 5-1 win before a sellout crowd of 16,839 at Rexall Place.

The Blackhawks silenced the Oilers’ red-hot power play -- which was operating at a staggering 36.7 percent success rate in their past nine games -- thwarting all three of their chances and giving up only handful of shots in the process.

But perhaps most important, the Hawks got things rolling with a big shorthanded goal at 5:14 of the first period. They never looked back.

Capitalizing on a blunder by sophomore winger Nail Yakupov at the point, Hawks captain Jonathan Toews set the tone early with a glorious shorthanded effort. Racing in on a clear-cut breakaway, Toews made a series of dekes before depositing the puck past the desperate reach of Devan Dubnyk in recording his 12th goal and 24th point of the season.

“It was a great start,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said postgame. “Their power play has been excellent in recent weeks, so to get a shorthanded goal like that early on, it certainly got us off on the right foot.

“We haven’t played in a few days, so getting off to that good start was important.”

Less than three minutes later and on a power-play chance of their own, the Hawks made it a 2-0 game. Patrick Kane pounced on a rebound at the lip of the crease, easily shuttling the puck into the open cage and extending his point streak to 11 games.

The goal turned out to be the game-winner, Kane’s team-leading fourth of the season, and the Hawks finished the night 1-for-4 with the man advantage.

Kane had a similar point streak in 2009-10, in addition to a pair of nine-gamers that season as well, but he’s never had one stretch to 12 games. Since Nov. 3 against Calgary, he has recorded six goals and nine assists.

Duncan Keith picked up two assists and now has 19 helpers on the season, leading all NHL defensemen in that category.

“Our power play has been pretty good lately, but our PK has been letting us down a little bit,” Keith said. “It’s nice to right the ship on that and to have it lead to a win tonight. We’re thrilled. Now we’ve got to keep it going.”

Quenneville agreed.

“Special teams really put us in a good spot,” he said. “Across the board, we did what we had to do tonight. It was a very solid game for our group.”

Johnny Oduya and Andrew Shaw (two goals) rounded out the scoring for the Blackhawks.

Justin Schultz gave the Oilers some life with a second-period goal, but it wasn’t enough.

Corey Crawford, making his league-leading 23rd start of the season, posted 24 saves in the victory as he improved to 16-4-3 on the season.