EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -With just 27 games left in the regular season, the Edmonton Oilers believe they've found the formula for a run at a playoff spot.
Joni Pitkanen had a goal and an assist, and the Oilers defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 Wednesday night for their second straight win.
|Patrick Lalime deflects a shot from Dustin Penner in the third period. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Ulan)|
Jarret Stoll, Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau also scored and Mathieu Garon stopped 40 shots for the Oilers, who moved within five points of eighth place in the Western Conference.
"We've played really hard the last three games and with a lot of passion and a lot of pride in our game," Moreau said. "It's a good lesson that the harder we play and the more structure we have, the more offense.
"We're keeping it simple and focusing on three or four things that we need to do well to win games. Getting a lot of shots, being physical, being a hard team coming off the puck, we're making sure everybody in this room is doing them. We do those things and we're going to be tough to beat."
One of the bright spots in the last two outings has been the normally poor power play, which scored three goals against Calgary on Monday and two more against the Blackhawks.
"We've been working on it for the past week, trying different looks and different personnel," Penner said. "And we seem to have found what we needed. The guys are really starting to click."
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish has notices a positive mood swing of late.
"We have lots of energy and lots of good things are happening," he said. "I can't really think of a time all season where we've had this much life on the bench. It's a product of having a little taste of success in the short term here. Hopefully we can continue in the same way and build some wins and get ourselves back into it. It feels like we could put a run together right now, for sure."
|Patrick Sharp (right) and Denis Grebeshkov battle along the boards. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Ulan)|
Patrick Sharp had the only goal for the Blackhawks, who have lost five in a row.
Edmonton brok a 1-1 tie 8 minutes into the middle period on the power play as Penner tipped Sam Gagner's shot over Chicago goalie Patrick Lalime's shoulder.
The Oilers extended the lead 34 seconds later as Moreau outmuscled Cameron Barker in front of the net and redirected Ladislav Smid's shot past Lalime. Pitkanen closed the scoring in the first minute of the third period as he skated to the top of the faceoff circle before sending a shot over Lalime's shoulder.
The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead on the power play with just 43 seconds remaining in the first period as Sharp tipped Duncan Keith's point shot past Garon.
"Garon played a good game for them," Chicago coach Denis Savard said. "We should have had a lot more than one goal, no question. The first period was probably the greatest period we've played since the All-Star break, but we got in some penalty trouble and that's what happened."
Edmonton tied the score on a power play of their own 2 minutes into the second as Ales Hemsky threaded a cross-ice pass back to Stoll at the point and he blasted a shot past Lalime.
The Oilers thought they had taken the lead 3 minutes later as a bad-angle shot by Tom Gilbert appeared to have gone in just as the net was knocked off its moorings. However a video review determined the puck actually hit Gagner and never crossed the goal line.
"We're not playing the way we can," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said. "At the same time we know how fast that can change and how fast momentum can change and there's still time but it is dwindling away and we need to get those points."
Notes: Oilers F Shawn Horcoff underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday morning and will miss the remainder of the season. ... Edmonton D Sheldon Souray took a trip to see a shoulder specialist in New Jersey to assess his shoulder and determine if he will return the lineup this season. ... Chicago F Martin Lapointe (bruised kidney) suited up for the first time in seven games. ... Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews took part in practice for the first time since his injury, and will likely return next week. ... Edmonton sent F Patrick Thoresen to Springfield of the AHL on a conditioning assignment. ... Pitkanen's assist on Penner's goal was the 100th of his career.