EDMONTON, Alberta — Joel Quenneville remembers what it was like trudging out of Rexall Place after being run out of the rink by the perennial also-ran Oilers. He remembers the 9-2 loss three seasons ago. He remembers the 8-2 loss later that season, in which Sam Gagner had eight points.
“I know we exited here after those games and it was an awful feeling,” Quenneville said. “But every game’s different.”
Well, sort of. They’re still blowouts. Only now, the Blackhawks are the ones doing the destroying.
Marian Hossa had a goal and three assists, Jonathan Toews had two goals, and Patrick Kane and Kris Versteeg each had a goal and an assist as the Hawks annihilated the hapless Oilers 7-1 in Edmonton. The Hawks now have won their last three at Rexall Place by a combined score of 16-3.
“It was fun in the beginning when we got the offense going, especially against this team, because they had our number the last couple years,” said Hossa, who ended a nine-game goal drought. “They [scored] so many goals, so it’s nice to give it back.”
All this after Antti Raanta was nowhere to be found for warmups or during the game, a sudden illness costing him his first start in nearly a month. Corey Crawford made 24 stops in his place. Quenneville said Raanta was feeling a little better after the game, and didn’t rule him out for Sunday’s game in Vancouver.
Crawford learned he’d be starting after the morning skate, during which he took extra work that he normally wouldn’t on a game night.
“You’ve got to be ready,” Crawford said. “I’ve learned throughout the years that anything can happen and you’ve got to stay ready, no matter what.”
It was the latest chapter in a bizarre series between the two teams. Last season in Chicago, Patrick Kane scored a 180-foot own goal when Crawford had vacated the net on a delayed penalty. In 2013 in Edmonton, goaltender Ray Emery had to leave the game in the middle of the first period with an injury. And in 2011-12, the Oilers had those two shellackings of the Hawks. In fact, the last seven meetings at Rexall have all been blowouts, with the Hawks winning the last three in decisive fashion.
This one was over within minutes. The Hawks scored on their first two shots of the game, three of their first five, and six of their first 15. Crawford was strong in net, but the Hawks might have been able to win this one with a trash can placed in the crease, street-hockey style.
First, Toews took a Brandon Saad (two assists) feed and beat Ben Scrivens with a nifty move. Fifty-five seconds later, Ben Smith outworked two Oilers in the corner and came away with the puck, setting up Marcus Kruger for a nice wrist shot from the left circle and a 2-0 lead. The Hawks didn’t let up.
“We just want to get the killer instinct, and try to jump on them,” Hossa said. “As soon as we score a couple, we want to get more.”
They did. Toews made it 3-0 late in the first when he deflected a Brent Seabrook shot, and then the wheels really came off for Edmonton in the second period. Versteeg scored on a 5-on-3 power play, one-timing a Kane feed before the puck was swatted by Andrew Ference into his own net. On the remaining power play, Hossa scored — his first goal of November; he looked up and raised his palms to the sky in celebration. Hossa now has a goal and nine assists in his last seven games.
“After nine games without scoring, the first one always feels nice,” Hossa said. “A relief.”
That one finally chased Scrivens from the Oilers net. But 65 seconds later, Duncan Keith beat Scrivens’ replacement, Viktor Fasth, to make it 6-0.
Edmonton’s David Perron spoiled Crawford’s shutout bid midway through the third period, but Kane got the goal back on a two-on-one with Versteeg. Kane has four goals and four assists in his last four games.
By the end of the game, Toews was passing up chances for a hat trick to try to set up the new guys, Adam Clendening and Phillip Danault.
“I think that they were trying to give him the puck, and he was trying to give somebody else the puck,” Quenneville said.
It was all fun and games at Rexall Place, which is no longer a house of horrors for the Hawks.