EDMONTON, Alberta — The Blackhawks felt they produced another sharp start Saturday against the Oilers.
“The first 10 minutes, we were right there,” interim coach Derek King said. “I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be a good game for us. We could beat that team.’”
But a few turnovers and a few breakdowns quickly derailed the train.
A Connor McDavid rebound tap-in goal, a Tyson Barrie bomb on a five-on-three power play, a Kailer Yamamoto shorthanded rocket after a disastrous Seth Jones drop pass and a Ryan McLeod maneuver around Kevin Lankinen after ditching Jonathan Toews gave the Oilers four goals in a nine-minute span.
The Hawks were never able to climb out of that first-period hole in their eventual 5-2 loss, halting their winning streak at four and handing King his first loss.
“You make a mistake, you turn a puck over, it’s [about] what we do after that,” King said. “We can’t let it snowball. We’ve got to clean up some areas.”
“Obviously you want to start good and play with a lead,” Alex DeBrincat added. “It’s obviously easier than going down 4-0, right?”
DeBrincat was yet again the Hawks’ bright spot, scoring twice to up his season goal total to 11 in 17 games — a 53-goal prorated pace. His second tally, on a two-on-none rush alongside Philipp Kurashev, briefly pulled the Hawks within two until Leon Draisaitl scored the Oilers’ second shorthanded goal to seal the result.
But with the game nonetheless out of reasonable reach for most of the night, perhaps the most interesting stretch was a marathon shift early in the second period. The Hawks were stuck in their defensive zone for ages while the Oilers rolled all four forward lines, one after another.
Hawks defensemen Connor Murphy and Caleb Jones ended up logging unfathomable 4:50 shifts until the Hawks were finally able to clear the puck, somehow unscathed.
“It was long,” Murphy said. “We went through different waves of feeling during the shift… [We] went from being super tired to just being not tired anymore and just getting through it.”
After having played just once in the previous seven days, the NHL schedule-makers gave the Hawks a 22-hour turnaround between puck drops — the minimum allowed time — this weekend entering Sunday’s matchup against the Canucks.
Considering how Saturday went, however, that might be fortunate.
“[It] could be good for us,” DeBrincat said. “[We can] forget about this one, go play right away.”