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Keith goal the difference as the Blackhawks defeat Oilers

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Coming into Sunday's game with the visiting Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith led his team with 12 assists, but was still in pursuit of his first goal of the season.

Finally at 13:39 of the third period, Keith's power-play goal proved to be the insurance the Blackhawks needed in a 5-4 win over a surprisingly strong Oilers team.

"You can't make too many mistakes against these guys," Keith said of Edmonton. "They've got a good young team and we have to give them credit, but it was nice to be able to find a way to win there at the end."

Keith added that it was a relief to finally get that first one in the net.

"You've just got to keep shooting," Keith said. "You make some nice shots and they don't go in, and then you just throw the puck at the net, so it was nice to get that one there."

The win marked the third time in four attempts that the Blackhawks have won back-to-back games this season, having defeated the Stars in Dallas on Saturday.

Chicago (12-2-4) has won three straight and is now 5-0-1 in its last six games.

"It was one of those games where we stuck with it, which was important, and found a way to win against a team that enjoys playing us and has some success against us, so we'll take the points," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.

Edmonton drops to 4-13-2 after suffering its eighth loss in the last nine games.

"We had missed coverage by some of our veteran players, which is concerning to me," Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said. "If you can't defend in this league, you're not going to win, that's just the way it is.

"Tonight, we had flashes of very good D-zone coverage, and then we had some flashes of just total unawareness of what was going on behind us."

With Edmonton off to a terrible start this season, due mainly to injuries that have decimated the Oilers with 107 lost man-games coming into Sunday's game, Hawks fans likely thought the Oilers would be a pushover.

But Edmonton gave as good as it got throughout the contest, even though Eakins was less than pleased with how his team's defense let the Blackhawks not only rally to tie, but then to win.

The game was scoreless until late in the first period as left wing Brandon Saad (four goals this season) tallied at 18:23 to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.

Edmonton came out for the second period with a vengeance, going ahead 2-1 on an even-strength goal by center Ryan Nugent-Hopkin (5) and a power-play goal by right wing Nail Yakupov (2).

At 4:13 of the middle period, Edmonton center Sam Gagner failed to score on a penalty shot against Chicago goalie Corey Crawford after Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook was whistled for interference on a Gagner breakaway, resulting in the one-on-one vs. Crawford.

Blocking the corner of the net with aplomb, Crawford's presence essentially forced the incoming Gagner to shoot wide to the right of the net, ending Edmonton's chance of taking the lead at that point.

The Blackhawks tied it at 2-all late in the middle period when Saad offered a perfect feed through the crease to center Andrew Shaw (4), who easily poked the puck past out-of-position Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk.

Left wing Brian Bickell's goal (5) early in the third period put the Blackhawks back on top 3-2.

But to their credit, the Oilers had no quit in them, rallying back to tie the game 3-3 at 7:58 on left wing David Perron's goal (4), another power-play effort.

Chicago came right back at 11:44 when center Marcus Kruger (2) scored to put the Hawks back on top 4-3.

After Keith's goal, the Oilers made it close on right wing Jordan Eberle's slapshot goal (4) from just inside the blue line, but Edmonton could not get any closer.

"Right now it's tough for me to stand here and say what we did wrong and what we did right," Oilers defenseman Philip Larsen said. "Bottom line is that we didn't get any points and that's what matters right now. We have to bounce back somehow."

Rozsival left the game with just over four minutes to play after being struck in the face by a puck.

"He took it in the chops there and I think he's going to be okay, but he's got some work they're doing on him," Quenneville said.

NOTES: Chicago has scored five or more goals in six of its last nine games. Not coincidentally, the Blackhawks are 5-1 in those six games. ... Attendance was 21,185. ... Lucky he signed on the dotted line when he did: One week after the Blackhawks signed F Brad Mills to a guaranteed one-year contract, he suffered a lower-body injury that has sidelined him for the last five games, including Sunday. There's no word yet on his return, but some media reports claim Mills could miss several weeks after the team previously said his status would be day-to-day. ... G Nikolai Khabibulin continues to sit on the bench, having appeared in just three of the Hawks' 19 games thus far this season. Khabibulin, 40, remains two games away from 800 appearances in his lengthy NHL career. G Corey Crawford has played in each of the last seven games (including Sunday) without a break. Khabibulin gave up four goals in his last game (vs. Minnesota), prompting head coach Joel Quenneville to bench him midway through and bring Crawford on in relief. ... Chicago hosts Phoenix on Thursday before playing eight of its next nine games on the road, including seven straight away from the United Center (the first of two times that will happen this season). ... Edmonton is now 52-56-12-0 all-time vs. Chicago. ... Sunday wrapped up a four-game road trip for the Oilers, who return home to face Dallas on Wednesday.
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