Blackhawks turn in better effort but lose in OT to Oilers

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville probably knew the question was coming. By scheduling a rare optional morning skate the day after a night game in another city, was he trying to wake up his team?

But Quenneville wasn’t biting.

“It was an optional skate,” Quenneville said Thursday morning. “There were a lot of guys out there.”

On Thursday night, the Hawks were better than they were Wednesday in St. Louis. It still wasn’t enough for a win, as Mark Letestu scored a power-play goal with 15.8 seconds left in overtime to give the Oilers a 2-1 win.

Anton Forsberg makes a save during Thursday's game. | AP

On the plus side, the Hawks’ performance wasn’t as sloppy as it was against the Blues, and they generated chances all night. Unfortunately for them, the Hawks gave up 42 shots and the power play went
0-for-5 and squandered a 5-on-3 during the second period.

“We had some great looks around the net. There were a lot of loose pucks,” Quenneville said of the power play. “We just didn’t find the handle or weren’t anticipating or sniffing them up around the net. We had some close looks but no finish.”

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During the morning session, 16 players skated, with only Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Richard Panik, Brandon Saad, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews absent. Yet, even if Quenneville didn’t say so, he would have been justified if he wanted more work after Wednesday.

In the 5-2 loss at St. Louis, the Hawks did little right. Through two periods, they were outshot 26-8 and only woke up when the game was out of reach.

The Hawks knew they had to be better. They were against Edmonton, but only came away with one point.

“It was better than last night,” Keith said, “but obviously that’s not a good comparable.”

On Thursday, the Hawks unveiled a somewhat new look. Artem Anisimov started on the fourth line between Lance Bouma and John Hayden, while Tanner Kero began on a line with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Sharp, though Kero and Anisimov had flipped by the end of the night.

Whether the new lineup had anything to do with it, the Hawks got off to a better start than Wednesday.

Just seconds after Edmonton killed a penalty, Kane scored his third of the season when he banked in a shot from a bad angle off Oilers goalie Cam Talbot to give the Hawks a 1-0 edge at 7:33 of the opening period. But Connor McDavid did a Connor McDavid thing, holding off then spinning around Keith to find a wide-open Patrick Maroon to tie the game 17:18 into the first.

That was all the scoring until Letestu’s goal as Hawks goalie Anton Forsberg (40 saves) and Talbot (30 saves) kept the game tied. Encouragingly, Forsberg had a second strong start after making 39 saves against Toronto on Oct. 9 and showed the Hawks might have found another dependable backup.

“Excellent games, both games that got into overtime,” Quenne-ville said of Forsberg. “It would have been nice to get him a win.”

Thursday also marked the end of a tough eight-game stretch to begin the season against eight playoff teams from a year ago. The Hawks got through it a respectable 4-2-2, and four of their next five games are against teams that weren’t in the 2017 postseason.

“We started off really well and kind of got away from it a little bit in the middle there,” Ryan Hartman said. “[Wednesday night] wasn’t great but tonight was a step forward.”

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