Big Guns, Young Stars Guide Blackhawks to Game One Win Over Oilers

Ben Browne
BarnBurner Sports Writer


Saturday, August 1, 2020

The Edmonton Oilers began their playoff push on Saturday afternoon in Game 1 of their qualifying-round best-of-five series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite being a mismatch on paper (the 12 vs. 5 matchup in the West, this was a draw the Oilers couldn't have loved. Though Chicago is technically the youngest team in the playoffs, they possess far more playoff experience than the Oilers between their big four of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

That experience paid off for the former Cup champs.

The Oilers scored the opening goal on an absolute howitzer on the power play from Connor McDavid off a pass from his right-hand man Leon Draisaitl making it 1-0 Edmonton.

That lead didn't last long, as Dylan Strome banked one in off Edmonton netminder Mike Smith. Smith vacated his cage on a dump-in and misplayed the puck mightily back of the net, which led to the goal.

The onslaught was just getting started. Chicago added three more tallies prior t the end of the frame, including two from Toews. They led 4-1 after 20. 

Edmonton cut into the lead early in the second, once again on the power play. Edmonton was owning the puck in the offensive zone, and McDavid returned Drasaitl's first-period favour, finding his linemate in front for an easy finish, making it 4-2.

Chicago, however, relied on that aforementined experience and did not allow the Oilers back into the game. Not only did they not allow the hometown squad to get back into the game – they got the Drasaitl goal back, and then some. First, budding star Dominik Kubalik wired a one-timer from the right point. Then, he tipped home a Duncan Keith point-shot, extending the Blackhawks lead to four.

The Oilers made a late push, scoring two goals in 43 seconds late, on goals by James Neal and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but it was a case of too-little-too-late, as the Blackhawks rebounded off an early goal to come away with a 6-4 Game 1 victory.

The biggest question for Edmonton heading into Game 2 will be between the pipes. Have the Oilers decided Smith is their guy, or does a supbar performance spell a change for Game 2?

That game is set for Monday night at 10:30 ET/8:30 PT, as the Oilers look to rebound from a difficult loss after scoring the opening goal.