Chicago Blackhawks dial up the intensity, defeat Edmonton 5-3 - New York News

Blackhawks dial up the intensity, defeat Edmonton 5-3

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks got back on the winning track with a 5-3 victory over Edmonton. It was a complete team effort as the better players were very involved as well as those who are in a supporting role. On Sunday night the Blackhawks picked up their 30th win and currently have 70 points, five fewer than league leader Anaheim.

For awhile it appeared the Oilers would be a handful as they took an early lead. To make matters worse, Duncan Keith was responsible for the goal. Keith had a miscue but afterward played well, recording four shots and one assist. The Hawks tied the game on a Ben Smith tip in and took the lead early in the second frame on an Andrew Shaw goal.

What followed in the second period was an oddity. The Hawks were on a power play and there was a delayed penalty call. As Antti Raanta was pulled for an extra attacker, a Patrick Kane pass wasn't caught and made its way all the way down the ice into the empty net. Instead of being up by one goal and on a five on three power play the game was tied at two.

The Blackhawks didn't sulk and scored 29 seconds later as Marian Hossa celebrated his 35th birthday in style with a power play tally. Jonathan Toews had a strong, determined effort and closed out the second period scoring as the Hawks snagged a two goal lead. Each club added a goal in the third frame and Chicago completed a three game season series sweep over the Oilers.

What was most significant is the Blackhawks may have found their second line center, at least for the time being. For quite awhile my view has been Shaw should get a chance to play with Patrick Kane. They were united Sunday night and with Brandon Saad on left wing formed a dynamic trio.

Saad and Kane appear to be players that can play with anyone, but could prosper with someone like Shaw. In post game comments Joel Quenneville admitted he liked what he saw with the newly formed second line. By all indications they will play together again and could stay together if Shaw can handle his defensive responsibilities.

Marcus Kruger went back to center the fourth line as Smith and Brandon Bollig had good performances. That leaves Michal Handzus on the third line, at least for the time being.

It was pointed out here on Sunday, the meager 20 Chicago shots in the Montreal game said a great deal. Sunday night the Hawks played physical, defensemen were better, and as a team controlled the puck the majority of the time. When individual battles are won and players are moving north and south good things can happen. The Hawks pounded 41 shots on the Oilers cage and only allowed 21. That's more reflective of a Chicago winning effort.

The little things add up and the Blackhawks checked a lot of boxes. Their leaders were fully engaged and at the top of the list was Toews.

The Oilers Boyd Gordon is one of the best faceoff men in the NHL. Toews was dialed on high Sunday night as he beat Gordon in the faceoff circle like a drum.

The Hawks captain won eight of 10 faceoffs against Gordon. As a team the Hawks were winners 61 percent of the time as Toews led the charge with a winning percentage of 74 percent. Kruger also had his way with Gordon winning three of four.

Raanta got the call in the second of back to back games and was fair. If things go the Hawks way Corey Crawford will take the reigns and follow with another great performance. If that happens Quenneville will likely ride Crawford through next Sunday.

As is usually the case there won't be much time to bask in the glow of one win. In town on Tuesday will be Colorado and they are sporting a 5-2-3 record over the last 10 games. The Avalanche will also have a vivid memory of the 7-2 spanking at the hands of the Blackhawks on December 27.

On Sunday the Hawks put the hammer down on the Oilers in the second period as they outshot them 19-6. Quenneville will look for that same intensity on Tuesday night.

Follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia and I will be back on Wednesday morning.

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