Blackhawks overcome slow start, take care of pesky Oilers 5-4 - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Blackhawks overcome slow start, take care of pesky Oilers 5-4

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks outlasted Edmonton to record their 28th point of the season with a 5-4 victory. The Oilers have struggled mightily for years but always seem to give the Hawks a strong effort.

Corey Crawford got the start in goal despite playing on Saturday night in Dallas. Before snagging the win, Crawford was 2-5-0 versus Edmonton with a suspect .876 save percentage. Crawford came up with some nice stops but his save percentage didn't improve as the Oilers recorded only 23 shots on goal.

Maybe the reason Joel Quenneville went back with Crawford instead of turning to Nikolai Khabibulin was he smelled a possible home ice upset. Quenneville also knows the schedule turns more road heavy soon and opponents later this week are more accomplished than the young Oilers. The Hawks bench boss may have wanted to make sure two points were not squandered against a last place team.

Possibly, new goaltender coach Steve Weeks thought Khabibulin needed more polishing before his next start. Whatever the reason was for not getting the call Khabibulin did have a 13-11-3 record with two shutouts when playing Edmonton. He also recorded a 2.65 GAA and a .906 save percentage versus the Oilers. There will be two more back to back games this month and sooner than later Khabibulin will need to get a start.

In a Chicago Sun Times article, Quenneville mentioned he hadn't lost confidence in Khabibulin. Quenneville also remarked he feels Khabibulin will get on a roll and get the amount of starts they anticipated. My guess is that number is close to 20 games.

The Blackhawks deserved the victory as it seemed like they had over two times as many good scoring chances than the Oilers. Bad teams usual shoot themselves in the foot and taking three consecutive penalties in the third period didn't help the Edmonton cause. The Oilers did manage a shorthanded goal in the final frame but it was too little too late.

In Dallas it was the big names that carried the play but Sunday night the support staff got high marks. Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger lit the lamp. It took 51 shots on goal before Duncan Keith recorded his first goal of the season but it was the game winner.

The Blackhawks will rest and practice before facing Phoenix on Thursday night at the United Center. The Coyotes are on a strong 8-2 run and sit in second place in the Pacific division with 26 points.

Al's Shots

The Hawks won 68% of all faceoffs with Jonathan Toews leading the team with a 75% winning percentage.

Kruger stayed hot at the dot winning nine of 14 faceoffs for 64%.

The Hawks recorded 36 shots on goal and Edmonton was credited with 23 blocked shots.

Shaw had a nice weekend and was a +2 versus the Oilers.

If the Brandon Pirri second line center audition goes south, my thinking is Shaw could slide up to the second line.

Michal Handzus skated on Sunday and according to Quenneville is progressing.

Michal Rozsival played two good games over the weekend but Sunday night things ended on a sour note. Rozsival took a puck in the mouth while sitting on the bench in the final period. It was reported Rozsival will be fine but will need some dental work.

Quenneville stuck with the same lineup as on Saturday so Jeremy Morin was a healthy scratch again.

I will be back on Friday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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