RECAP: Blackhawks win first game, deliver Oilers first loss


After the heartbreaking overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night, the Blackhawks welcomed the best team in the NHL, the 5–0–0 Edmonton Oilers, led by two of the league’s top point-getters in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. 

The Blackhawks entered Monday’s contest still searching for their first victory of the season. Chicago looked poised to beat Winnipeg after taking a 2–0 lead early in Saturday’s game, but ultimately fell short of their first win. Instead, the Blackhawks looked to beat one of the two remaining unbeaten teams in the NHL.

The Blackhawks experienced a heavy line shakeup ahead of Saturday’s contest. The lines set for Monday were as follows:


Shaw StromeKane

Saad Kampf Kubalik


Keith Gustafsson


de HaanMurphy


Despite a good game from Robin Lehner on Saturday, the Blackhawks opted to go with the veteran Corey Crawford against the league’s top team on Monday night.

First period

The first period started well for the Blackhawks. Not even 15 seconds into the period, Dominik Kubalik fired an absolute rocket at Mike Smith for the game’s first solid chance. 

Despite the fast start for the Blackhawks, not much happened in the period. The Blackhawks managed to fire 10 pucks at Mike Smith in the first compared to the Oilers’ 12. A notable stat from the first period was the Blackhawks’ penalty kill keeping the league’s second-best power play off the scoresheet early. 

The Oilers came up empty on their two power plays in the first period, but Edmonton almost took the lead on the power play after drawing iron on the man advantage. 

However, the post proved to be Crawford’s best friend and ultimately kept the game scoreless through the first period. The Blackhawks not only lost the shots on goal battle in the opening frame, but also were losing in the face off dot with Edmonton winning 56% of the draws. 

Second period

The Blackhawks came out of the first intermission with a sense of purpose, admittedly something they lacked in the last three games. After some pressure early from the Blackhawks, they were rewarded.

Just after the four-minute mark in the period, the Blackhawks and Oilers lined up to Smith’s right for a face off in the Edmonton zone. Dylan Strome won a critical faceoff after a bit of a scrum for the puck. After Strome gained possession, he found Patrick Kane, who had yet to move from his starting position, and Kane buried the puck past Smith after a little backhand-forehand motion.

Not long after, Andrew Shaw set the tone for the period. After defenseman Joel Persson was mesmerized by Kane behind the net, he did not see Shaw coming from his weak side. Shaw delivered a clean, hard hit to Persson, knocking him straight to the ice. Persson’s teammates did not like the Shaw hit and took exception. Ultimately, Jujhar Khaira took a roughing penalty for going after Shaw.

Despite the power play opportunity, the Blackhawks could not capitalize, keeping the score dormant at 1–0. 

Both teams traded power plays for much of the remainder of the period. With about four minutes left in the period, Brandon Saad nearly had a beautiful goal after he danced around an Edmonton defender. Saad took the puck hard to the net after gaining the inside on an Oiler defender, but ultimately hit the post. The goal would have been highlight-reel material for the power forward.

With just under three minutes remaining, the Oilers looked like they tied the game. Despite the optimistic call, the goal was waived off for goaltender interference. Connor McDavid had speed around Connor Murphy and took the puck to the net. Crawford stopped the initial bid, but McDavid continued into Crawford, causing the puck to cross the line, therefore resulting in the no-goal call.

Chicago was able to take their lead into the second intermission. The Blackhawks looked much better in the second period for the first time in this young 2019–20 season. 

NBC Sports Chicago broadcaster Pat Boyle mentioned at the end of the period that Jeremy Colliton challenged his team to be better in the middle frame and it is safe to confidently say they did just that. A 17-shot period for the Blackhawks gave them the 27–18 shots on goal advantage.

Third period

The Blackhawks brought the same energy out in the third period as they did in the second. The Blackhawks’ defense was all over the Oilers early. 

Just under seven minutes into the period, the Blackhawks’ effort paid off. The fourth line was out on the ice against McDavid and young Alexander Nylander made an excellent play against the Edmonton superstar. 

As McDavid went to bring the puck up the ice, Nylander was there to take away the puck from McDavid. Ryan Carpenter pushed the puck up the ice and Nylander was all over it. He gained possession just to the left of Smith and hesitated slightly to get Smith out of position. Nylander made Smith pay, and wired a beautiful shot past the goaltender to give the Blackhawks a 2–0 lead.

Quickly following the goal, the Blackhawks were sent to the power play after a poor offensive zone penalty by Khaira. However, the Blackhawks were unable to capitalize.

With 8:45 remaining in the period, Strome had an excellent opportunity in front of Edmonton’s crease. As the second line dominated possession in the Edmonton zone, Shaw was able to get the puck to Kane behind the net, as Kane slid the puck away from the scrum and finessed it out in front. Strome had an opportunity after a Kane pass, but Smith beat Strome with an excellent save to keep the deficit at two for the Oilers.

The period was a chippy one, as Calvin de Haan and McDavid exchanged pleasantries after a solid check by de Haan.

With just over two minutes remaining, the Oilers were able to take advantage of a six-on-four power play. James Neal scored his eighth goal of the young season for the Oilers after a nice pass from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to find him back door. 

With just over 30 seconds remaining, David Kampf made an excellent play on the wall in the Blackhawks zone to get the puck down the ice. With the goalie pulled, Saad gained possession deep in the Edmonton zone and dished the puck back to Jonathan Toews. Toews’ shot was blocked by Nugent-Hopkins and Kampf’s follow up shot was denied too. However, Saad found the puck laying in the blue paint and tapped it into the empty net to give the Blackhawks the 3–1 win.

Quick hits:

  • D-D-Defense! — The defense looked spectacular on Monday night. It finally felt like the pairings were the way they should be. Keith and Murphy played well together (more on that in a minute), Gustafsson found his ideal partner in de Haan and the Maatta-Seabrook pairing continued to play well. This feels like the first time in a while that the defense is actually…good?
  • An “A” for effort! — The team’s effort was outstanding against Edmonton. The Blackhawks’ forecheck was constantly in the face of Oilers defenders and made it difficult to play against. That high level of energy is what it is going to take for this team to win games. Now that there are more “grit” and “energy” players in the lineup, this could be an identity the Blackhawks adopt: be aggressive, be energetic and be a pain to play against.
  • Oh my Nylander! — Despite looking lost in the first period and barely seeing the ice in the second, Nylander scored the game-winning goal on Monday night. Nylander seemed to find his step on the fourth line in the third period, playing with a lot of energy and being rewarded with a goal on a hustle play that saw him strip McDavid and outhustle defenders to get to the puck. If Nylander can contribute in a limited role, he could prove very valuable to the team’s depth.
  • Where’s McDavid? — Fans did not hear McDavid’s name called all that much on the broadcast Monday night. He was almost non-existent. Specifically, the Keith-Murphy pairing did an excellent job against McDavid’s line and played excellent during the 23-plus minutes that both players played. The recipe for success against the Oilers is to shut down their stars and the Blackhawks did exactly that on Monday.
  • I love Calvin de Haan — De Haan has brought a lot of assets to the Blackhawks that they have lacked since Niklas Hjalmarsson was traded a few years ago. He plays strong defense, is not afraid of contact, has a great stick in his own zone and can avoid taking big hits that result in players falling out of position. Plainly said, as the author of this piece, I love Calvin de Haan. 

The Blackhawks will be off until Friday when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets at the United Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CDT.

Center Ice Forums RECAP: Blackhawks win first game, deliver Oilers first loss

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    Ron Luce

    After the heartbreaking overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night, the Blackhawks welcomed the best team in the NHL, the 5–0–0 Edmonton Oil
    [To continue reading full article, click here: RECAP: Blackhawks win first game, deliver Oilers first loss]

    Phil M

    I really like what De Haan adds to the team.

    The powerplay just looks pathetic and that should not happen with the talent this team has.

    Jeff Osborn

    The powerplay just looks pathetic and that should not happen with the talent this team has.

    Remember when we were fed that nonsense that the great Erik Gustafsson fixed the power play for good, which is the whole reason everyone was terrified to trade him this summer when his value was at it’s highest?

    @PuckinHostile on Twitter

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