Oilers top Blackhawks in OT, snap losing streak
CHICAGO — Perhaps getting away from home to face some of the league’s top teams was what Cam Talbot and the Edmonton Oilers needed to get back on track.
Talbot made 30 saves, and Mark Letestu scored a power-play goal with 16 seconds left in overtime as the Oilers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night at United Center.
“Coming into a building like this against a team like that, to come out with a win is going to be huge for us,” said Talbot, who had been tagged for 12 goals in his previous three starts after setting career highs with 42 wins and seven shutouts last season.
With Patrick Kane off for hooking, Letestu drilled a shot from the left circle past Anton Forsberg for his second goal of the season — and perhaps a big sigh of relief up and down the Edmonton bench.
“We were tighter. I don’t think we gave up the big breakaway or the two-on-one,” Letestu said. “Guys were giving it up tonight.”
The win was a solid start to a daunting road trip for Edmonton (2-4-0). Next up are stops in Philadelphia on Saturday and Pittsburgh on Tuesday to face the defending two-time Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
“We’re not out of the (garbage) by any means,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “We’re still digging the sand off our bodies and we’ve got to keep going. If we come up with a poor effort (against Philadelphia), shame on us.”
Kane scored and Forsberg made 40 saves for Chicago (4-2-2), which lost its second consecutive game and third in four.
“We’ve got to find a way to win against that team,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. “It was better than (Wednesday) night (a 5-2 loss in St. Louis), but obviously not a good comparable.”
Chicago took a 1-0 lead 7:33 into the contest when Kane took a pass from Jan Rutta and shoveled a shot from the goal line past Talbot for his third marker of the season.
“(Talbot) could have cracked after giving up the first one, obviously, on the first shot, one he’d probably like to have back, but after that he made some really tremendous saves and gave us a chance,” McLellan said. “I thought he looked more like he did most of last year and our team looked a little better than it did the past few games.”
Patrick Maroon tied the score for Edmonton with 2:42 to play in the opening frame, but it was the pass from Connor McDavid that was more impressive. Last season’s Hart Trophy winner fooled Keith with a spin-o-rama move that evoked Blackhawks legend Denis Savard before slipping a pass to Maroon, who flicked it past an out-of-position Forsberg.
“If Patty would have missed that, I would have been crazy,” Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “That’s going to be on the highlight reel for a long time.”
McDavid, who also won the Art Ross Trophy in 2016-17, has assists in four straight games.
After the Oilers knotted the score, Talbot and Forsberg took center stage.
Edmonton was called for three penalties in the opening 4:59 of the second period, but Talbot stood his ground, including for 56 seconds of a five-on-three situation.
On the other side, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed with Forsberg, who was acquired in July with Brandon Saad in the deal that sent Artemi Panarin to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Forsberg played his first game in 10 days since stopping 39 shots in a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“Excellent games. Both games got into overtime. Would have been nice to get him a win tonight,” Quenneville said.
With just over seven minutes left in regulation, Talbot had trouble handling a blast from Jonathan Toews in front, but the puck trickled past the left post. Talbot then turned away a hard wrister from John Hayden with just over a minute left in regulation.
Chicago had its chances in overtime. Toews was denied twice in the opening minute by Talbot, and Saad — who leads the NHL with four game-winning goals — rang a shot off the post with 3:34 left.
“This is what we were hoping for,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “Play a solid game and we came out with a win and feel like we got a fresh start here on the road, so it feels really good right now.
NOTES: Edmonton C Leon Draisaitl (eye/concussion) and LW Drake Caggiula (undisclosed) remain on injured reserve. ... LW Jujhar Khaira and D Matt Benning were scratches for the Oilers, while D Michal Kempny, D Cody Franson and C Tommy Wingels sat out for the Blackhawks. ... Edmonton C Connor McDavid and Chicago RW Alex DeBrincat were teammates in juniors with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League. ... Chicago begins a two-game swing against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.