CHICAGO -- The combination of being shut out the last two games and an opponent that looked like imposters rather than the NHL's top team for part of the game allowed the Edmonton Oilers to roll to a 6-5 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at United Center.
Edmonton came into Sunday's game having been shut out and outscored 9-0 in its last two games, suffering a 3-0 defeat at Detroit and 6-0 at Nashville. But led by a pair of goals by Sam Gagner, the Oilers looked like world-beaters on Chicago's home ice.
The Oilers improved to 9-11-5 with the win, while the Blackhawks suffered only their second loss in regulation time this season, dropping to a 21-2-3 mark in front of a crowd of 22,020.
It's pretty clear that the Blackhawks are really starting to feel the impact of the loss of Patrick Sharp, who will be out for the next 3-4 weeks with an injured left shoulder, sustained last Wednesday at home against Colorado.
Without Sharp's play and leadership, Chicago struggled far too many times, particularly on defense, which has been its strong suit during the first half of the season.
After staking Edmonton to a 5-2 lead midway through the second period, a shot by Chicago's Marian Hossa bounced off the chest of teammate Sheldon Brookbank and past Edmonton goalie Yann Danis at 15:05 to close the score to 5-3. It was Brookbank's first goal of the season and came as the Hawks were playing shorthanded.
But the pesky Oilers weren't going to let that one go by easy, as Taylor Hall tallied 51 seconds later to put Edmonton back ahead by three, 6-3.
Chicago once again closed to within two goals at 17:12 when Brent Seabrook scored on a 45-foot slapshot, his fourth goal of the season, leaving Edmonton protecting a 6-4 edge.
Chicago outshot Edmonton 18-7 in the second period.
The Blackhawks made a game of it in the third period when Patrick Kane took a cross-ice pass from Dave Bolland and lifted the puck past Danis at 7:06. It was Kane's team-leading 14th goal, his second of the game and also on the power-play, leaving Chicago behind by just one goal at that point, 6-5.
Even with the Blackhawks outshooting the Oilers 13-6 in the final period, they couldn't come back enough to tie the game or force it into overtime. Had the Blackhawks won, it would have been arguably the greatest comeback for the team this season, yet alas, they ultimately came up short.
Edmonton put Chicago to shame from the opening faceoff, scoring four times within a 10-minute span in the first period. Whether the Blackhawks were still experiencing jet lag from Friday night's 6-2 loss at Denver - their first defeat in regulation time this season - is unknown, but something was definitely wrong for a team that had been the best in the NHL up to this point.
The Oilers got on the board quickly at 2:24 of the first period on Mike Brown's 25-foot slapshot past Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery. To add insult to injury, it was Brown's first goal of the season.
Just over 30 seconds later, Sam Gagner scored the first of his two first-period goals, cranking a shot from the right side of Emery. Gagner would later score the Oilers' fourth goal of the game -- and his team-leading ninth tally of the season -- on the power-play at 12:22.
Sandwiched in-between was Edmonton's third goal, which was scored by Ryan Whitney, who took a cross-ice pass from Taylor Hall and easily sank his third tally of the season past an out-of-position Emery. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville had seen enough after that goal, pulling Emery and inserting Corey Crawford in goal.
That move was almost an exact reversal of what happened Friday at Colorado, when Crawford gave up five goals before he was replaced by Emery.
By the time the first period mercifully ended for Blackhawks fans, not only was their team down 4-0, it had also been outshot 12-6 in the opening stanza.
Patrick Kane finally got the Blackhawks on the scoreboard at 5:36 of the second period when Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk strayed too far from the crease -- to the top of the right circle, in fact -- and couldn't get back in time to defend against Kane's team-leading 13th goal of the season.
Chicago cut Edmonton's advantage in half to 4-2 at 7:51 of the middle period on Marian Hossa's 11th goal of the season. But Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff got that goal back at 10:28 with his second goal of the season, this one coming on the power play, to put Edmonton back ahead 5-2.
NOTES: Dubnyk left the game at 9:45 of the second period after being accidentally knocked to the ice by teammate Teemu Hartikainen in a wild scramble in front of the goal. Dubnyk lay motionless on the ice for several minutes before finally getting to his feet. He was replaced by Yann Danis. ... Chicago came into the game with a 55-47-12-4 lead in the all-time series against the Oilers, including 30-18-7-4 at home. The Blackhawks beat the Oilers on Feb. 25 at United Center. Both teams meet one final time in the shortened regular season on April 24 in Edmonton. ... Chicago begins a four-game road trip Thursday in Columbus, followed by games in Dallas, Colorado and Anaheim. The Hawks return to Chicago on March 25 vs. the Los Angeles Kings, the start of a three-game homestand and five of six games at the United Center. Edmonton, meanwhile, concludes its season-long nine-game road trip (the Oilers were 1-4-2 coming into Sunday night's game) Tuesday at Colorado, and then return home to begin a four-game homestand and seven of their next nine at home.