Khabibulin makes 23 saves and leads Blackhawks past Oilers, 3-0

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The Hockey News

The Hockey News

CHICAGO - Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was quick to share the credit after his 39th career NHL shutout.

"The whole team worked well," Khabibulin said. "I was really impressed."

Khabibulin made 23 saves to help Chicago beat Edmonton 3-0 on Wednesday night to end the Oilers' season-opening winning streak at four games.

Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Aaron Johnson scored to help the Blackhawks win their second straight game and improve to 2-0-1 since Joel Quenneville replaced Denis Savard as coach last Thursday.

Khabibulin's shutout was his first of the season and fourth since he joined the Blackhawks as a free agent in July 2005.

"Edmonton is a fast team and I thought we outskated them tonight," Khabibulin added. "I thought our defensive zone coverage was really good."

The Oilers didn't test Khabibulin heavily. A shot by Shawn Horcoff midway through the first period beat him, but hit the crossbar.

"He was square. He was challenging," Quenneville said. "And the guys in front of him played extremely well. I thought all areas of the game were in order."

Khabibulin has been solid in his last three starts, but Quenneville isn't ready to make him the team's No. 1 goalie ahead of Cristobal Huet.

"Right now, I'm in no hurry," Quenneville said. "Both guys are deserving of getting some playing time. It's a healthy position to be in as a team."

Edmonton had won each of its first four games by one goal. On Wednesday, however, the Oilers fell behind 2-0 in the first period and never got on track.

"In the first period we weren't ready to play at the start again," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "We've gotten away with it in at least two of the first four games. We knew it wasn't going to be long before it bit us in the rear end and it took a good chunk out of us."

Added Edmonton captain Ethan Moreau: "We didn't have the energy and play the game like it's supposed to be played out there. They played a great game, but we didn't do what we usually do or expect ourselves to do."

The Oilers' Dwayne Roloson stopped 27 shots in his first start this season.

"Rolie was our best player," MacTavish said. "It's unfortunate it had to be on a night like this when our team didn't play very well."

The Oilers, who entered the game with the NHL's second-best power-play - 5-for-17 and a 29.4 per cent conversion rate - wasted all five chances against Chicago.

Sharp opened the scoring with a power-play goal from the hashmarks 2:36 in. Sharp dumped the puck off Jonathan Toews in the left corner, skated back into the slot, took a pass from Toews and fired a shot over Roloson's glove.

Seabrook's short-handed goal with 1:25 left in the first made it 2-0.

Chicago's Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg broke into the Oilers' zone 2-on-1. Bolland passed back to Seabrook, who connected from the slot.

Johnson added his first goal with the Blackhawks with 7:43 left in the second. Signed as a free agent from the New York Islanders last summer, Johnson beat Roloson between the pads with a low shot from just inside the blue line.

Notes: Chicago RW Troy Brouwer, recalled from Rockford of the AHL on Tuesday, was in the lineup. ... Blackhawks D Niklas Hjalmarsson missed his sixth game because of bruised ribs. Chicago D Brent Sopel missed the game with an undisclosed injury. ... The Oilers opened a three-game trip. ... Edmonton C Sam Gagner and D Sheldon Souray returned after missing games because of leg injuries. Oilers D Steve Staios returned to Edmonton for family reasons and missed the game.



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