The Edmonton Oilers scored four times in the second period on the way to a 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night at Rogers Place.
The Oilers are 7-0-1 in their last eight games.
“I think we feel pretty good about our game since Christmas,” Connor McDavid said. “We went on a bit of a run to get ourselves back in the thick of things. Now we get a little rest and recovery to gear up for a big home stretch.”
The Oilers scored the only goal of the first period when Tyson Barrie’s wrist shot from the point on the power play went in off Petr Mrazek’s blocker. It was Barrie’s sixth goal of the season.
Jason Dickinson got in behind the Oilers defence and beat Jack Campbell blocker side to even it up 5:25 into the second. The Oilers replied quickly with Leon Draisaitl snapping in a power play pass from McDavid.
“They came out hard at us early in the game, but I thought in the second we started to stick with it and keep playing our game and slowly start pushing back,” Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “We built off that second period and went from there. Overall, we should be happy with that 60-minutes and take some positives going into the break.”
Later in the second, the Oilers poured it on with three goals in 2:33. Barrie swatted in a loose puck in the crease. McDavid cut in front and fired home a backhand. Zach Hyman made it 5-1 by tapping a puck in out of the air.
Jonathan Toews scored on the power play in the third. Evander Kane replied just 12 seconds later, his first goal since returning from his wrist injury. Ryan McLeod added his eighth of the season. Taylor Raddysh got one back for Chicago.
University of Alberta goalie Matt Berlin played the final 2:26 and made one save. He was called in to back up Campbell as Stuart Skinner was unavailable because of illness.
“I thought I was going to be sitting in the stands like I did last year during the playoffs,” Berlin said.
“At about 4:30 p.m. they texted me and said ‘change of plans, you’re actually backing up tonight’. I was sitting there doing homework and all of a sudden my heart rate spikes.”
“We wanted to give somebody an opportunity that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” Oilers Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We have great people here. We have great players as well, but it starts with people. For that to come from our players — I think it’s special and I think it brings the team together. Nobody was happier for that young man than the players in that dressing room.”
“He’s come in when there’s been an emergency in practice and stuff, so it was nice to see a moment like that,” McDavid said post-game.
“This day had to have been a whirlwind,” Darnell Nurse said. “I’ve never been a goalie so I don’t know what that feeling’s like — but he handled it great and made the save he had to make. It was great to see.”
As Berlin made his NHL debut, his parents watched on TV.
“We were out of town and like the first thing I thought is how are we going to get back to Edmonton?” Darrin Berlin said.
For them it was an emotional experience watching him take the ice.
“I was shaking and then I started to cry because it’s a dream come true,” Cathy Berlin said. “It just was a moment that was so special that we couldn’t believe it was actually happening.”
Darrin said he’s thankful the Oilers made the call to put Matt in.
“It’s such a classy move on them to put him in. It was not necessary, but it was super, super nice of them to do that,” Darrin said. “We’re so proud of Matt how he handled himself afterwards with the interviews and stuff it just couldn’t have gone any better any which way.”
The Oilers go into their bye week and the All-Star break with a record of 28-18-4. They’re back it February 7 at Detroit.
— With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED, and Nicole Stillger, Global News