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Edmonton Oilers extend winning streak to 15 with win over Chicago Blackhawks


It was a classic case of not asking how, but how many?

Connor McDavid had two goals and an assist and backup goalie Calvin Pickard made 27 saves for the shutout as the Edmonton Oilers kept their spectacular streak alive with a 3-0 victory over the lowly Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

Zach Hyman also scored while Leon Draisaitl had three assists for the Oilers (28-15-1) who have now won 15 games in a row, becoming just the fifth team in NHL history to meet the mark.

The record is 17 wins in a row by the Pittsburgh Penguin in 1992-93.

Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins admitted it wasn’t the prettiest victory during the team’s franchise record run, but he was not about to start critiquing wins.

“Overall, I thought we played a pretty solid 60,” he said. “We kept it simple. We understood it wasn’t going to be an easy one and that we wouldn’t be trading chances. They don’t really give up many odd-man rushes, so it is going to come with a lot of shots from the point and rebounds and building off of that. I thought we did a good job staying around and staying confident in our ability to be there and to come out with the two points.”

Journeyman goalie Pickard, who was called up from Bakersfield to back up Stuart Skinner after pricey free agent Jack Campbell struggled and was sent down, earned his fifth career shutout and first since Nov. 23, 2018 when he was a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I made some saves, but I thought we cleared out a lot of rebounds and blocked a lot of shots. So it’s definitely a team shutout for sure,” said the 31-year-old, who is with his sixth NHL organization, “When I got called up … it started off with not much action there for a while, but I’ve been happy with where my game’s at the last couple of months. I just want to keep doing my thing.”

The Oilers are now 23-3-0 in their last 26 games and have gone a franchise-record 13 consecutive games allowing two or fewer goals.

The Blackhawks (14-33-2) have lost three straight and have an unfortunate streak of their own going, losing 19 consecutive road games (0-18-1) as Petr Mrazek stopped 31 shots.

“Obviously we couldn’t get it done. Close isn’t good enough,” Hawks forward Mackenzie Entwistle said. “They’re a great team and have a lot of highly-offensive guys who can put the puck in the net. It’s frustrating but we stuck in there, we hung in there, we were in it until the end of the game, which was a good thing, but no goals is not good enough.”

The last time the Blackhawks won on the road was Nov. 9 in Tampa Bay.

“I guess when you put it that way all the way back to Tampa, it’s a long time,” Entwistle said. “Obviously it’s frustrating and I think the most frustrating part is that we’re in these games and we just can’t find a way to finish and get the job done.”

Edmonton broke the deadlock on the power play 1:37 into the middle frame as Draisaitl made a touch pass to McDavid and he scored on the backhand with Mrazek well out of position. The goal extended McDavid’s home scoring streak to 17 games.

Chicago had a glorious opportunity with 1:36 remaining in the second period when Entwistle was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down by Oilers defender Vincent Desharnais. Entwistle attempted to send his shot through Pickard’s legs, but the Oilers netminder shut the door.

Edmonton took a two-goal edge six-and-a-half minutes into the third as McDavid made a nice backhand pass across to a hard-charging Hyman, who directed his 29th of the season past Mrazek.

The Oilers put the game away with a late empty net goal as McDavid notched his 18th goal of the season moments after Hyman narrowly missed whilst being hauled down.

“Right now, the way the team’s started chasing teams, I think everyone’s just really excited to be moving up in the standings and giving ourselves a bit of breathing room,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch, who now has a remarkable 25-6-0 record behind the bench. “I think we’re trying to take it one game at a time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2024.

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