EDMONTON, Alberta -- Forget Las Vegas. What happened to the Blackhawks in this western Canadian city Saturday night should stay here.
The Hawks, who were scheduled to fly to Sin City following their game against the Oilers at Rexall Center for a little R&R during the middle of their six-game trip, were blown out by Edmonton 9-2 in an almost inexplicable defensive collapse that led to the Hawks' second consecutive blowout defeat.
The Oilers, who entered in the midst of a horrid stretch in which they had lost four games in a row by a combined 12 goals, exploded for five first-period scores and never looked back. It was the second consecutive game an opponent recorded a season-high in goals against the Hawks after the Flames hammered them 5-2 on Friday night. All this from a Hawks team that entered Saturday's game with 27 points, the most in the NHL.
"That was thoroughly embarrassing and humiliating across the board," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Collectively, I think we all have to take some responsibility, be it off the rush, penalty-killing, plays around our net (and) odd-man attacks. A complete breakdown."
Taylor Hall had three goals, Tom Gilbert and Jordan Eberle a goal and three assists, Shawn Horcoff had a goal and two assists and Ryan Smyth, Ryan Jones and Ales Hemsky also scored for the Oilers. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added five assists and Jeff Petry three to make life easy for veteran goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland scored power-play goals for the Hawks.
"We're not happy," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "We're embarrassed and we're (angry). I'm not going to lie. We do have a lot of pride in this room. We're not happy about letting something like that happen to each other. We only have ourselves to blame. We're not making any excuses. Every single guy could have been better out there. It's not one or two guys or three guys, it's everyone collectively."
It was a nightmarish night defensively, in particular for Duncan Keith, who was on the ice for seven Oilers goals and finished with a minus-4. Against the Flames, the onetime Norris Trophy winner was also a minus-4. Steve Montador also was a minus-4.
"Right now, it seems like every little mistake we make it's in the back of our net and we're making a lot of mistakes," Keith said. "We all as a team need to focus on committing to playing the right way and the way we know how to play. We have to. The last two games have been embarrassing. The only thing we can do is try and learn from it and move on."
It figured to be a motivated Hawks team after a poor performance against the Flames, but instead it was the Oilers who came out flying. Before the Hawks knew what hit them, they trailed 1-0 when Hemsky scored 48 seconds into the game.
Sharp pulled the Hawks even with a power-play score but the Oilers harkened back to the days when Wayne Gretzky and Co. captured four Stanley Cups during the 1980s by reeling off six consecutive goals.
After the second of those goals, which amounted to three Oilers scores in a span of 7:32, Quenneville had seen enough of goaltender Ray Emery and yanked the backup in favor of Corey Crawford.
Crawford didn't fare much better, yielding two goals on seven shots before the first period had concluded. When the teams came out for the second, Emery was back in the crease.
Edmonton kept the pressure on with two more scores and held a 7-1 lead before Bolland stopped the bleeding with a goal. Horcoff's score late in the second made it 8-2 and Hall completed his second career hat trick to end the onslaught.
"I expect more from myself," said Emery, who allowed seven goals on 27 shots. "I expect to play better, especially at the start. It doesn't feel good right now. There are no excuses for it. As a team we're embarrassed. "
The Hawks, who dropped to 12-6-3, have three days off before they continue their six-game trip against the Sharks on Wednesday night.
"We know our effort has to be way better," Toews said. "The way we played (Saturday night) and (Friday night) was completely unacceptable. I don't know what it is, if we think we're better than we actually are and we think we can just go out there and play and we're going to pick up two points every night. We're absolutely wrong there."
One-timers: Defenseman Brent Seabrook missed his third consecutive game with a lower-body injury suffered Nov. 13 against the Oilers. Winger Michael Frolik was sidelined for a second game in a row with a left shoulder injury sustained Wednesday against the Canucks. Both skated Saturday and are expected to return in the next game or two. Defenseman Sean O'Donnell returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for six games. Sami Lepisto was scratched.
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