EDMONTON, Alberta – The Chicago Blackhawks tonight won by the score of 4-1 and in the process clinched the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in 22 years with a victory against the slumping Edmonton Oilers. And with that, the team is guaranteed home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs gaining more points that the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Chicago Blackhawks came into the game after losing to the Vancouver Canucks in one of their top three worse losses of the year in which they allowed three goals before scoring one late in the game. One of those three bad loses also came when these two met last as the Hawks allowed 6 goals with four in the first only to lose 6-5 which was their second straight that they allowed 6 goals.
The scoring kicked off with an odd-man rush as rookie Brandon Saad dished the puck over the captain Jonathan Toews at the red line, skated in from the wing and instead of dishing the puck back to center, snapped the shot in high on Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk 3:58 into the game. A minute later the Oilers tied it up as the Hawks failed to cover Nail Yakupov who took the rebound off the boards and one-timed the puck in and over the left should of Ray Emery. The Oilers made another mistake a the blueline as they turned over the puck with Michal Handzus taking control and making a two-line pass to Patrick Kane with another odd-man rush. Kane skated in with speed with a back-hand, fore-hand move to the puck in five-hole to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
In the first period even though the Hawks had nine shots, seven of those were scoring chances with the Hawks skating in with numbers. But in the second it was the Oilers skating in with the odd-man rush. But Chicago was able to control it as they allowed Edmonton only two shots in the middle frame. Emery who started in goal did not answer the call for the second as Corey Crawford came in on relief. With their affiliate Rockford Ice Hogs out of the lineup, the Hawks had the luxury of having Carter Hutton in the arena incase something would happed to Crawford. Emery returned in goal tonight after being out a few game with a back injury.
In a sequence where the Hawks won the faceoff in their own zone, four of the five skaters touched the puck as the trailer defenseman Johnny Oduya received a perfect pass back from Kane for the shot in and over the glove of Dubnyk 4:36 into the final frame.
With two minutes left in the game, the Oilers pulled Dubnyk for the extra forward but Sharp, who just limped to the bench just minutes earlier favoring his knee, came out and battled with the puck along the far boards and scored hard into the net.
Hawks left wing Patrick Sharp returned to the lineup after another injury that has kept him off the ice for almost two weeks. Tonight he had a new linemate as center Drew LeBlanc started in his first NHL game. LeBlanc signed as a free agent on April 12 where earlier in the day he received the 2013 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the most outstanding player in NCAA hockey. He led the St. Cloud State to the Frozen Four registering 50 points in the season with 13 goals.
Devin Dubnyk went 26 of 29 in the loss. Emery allowed the only goal facing a total of 8 shots before he left with the nagging lower body injury. Crawford got his 19th win in relief stopping all 14 shots he faced.
Three Stars of the Game
Third Star: Edmonton Goaltender Devin Dubnyk
Second Star: Chicago Center Michal Handzus with two assists
First Star: Chicago Right Wing Patrick Kane with his 22nd goal of the season
The Hawks now return home Friday to Chicago and the Madhouse on Madison as they face the Calgary Flames in the final regular season home game.