A depleted Blackhawks team couldn't overcome its battle with the Edmonton Oilers and their ally, the flu bug, Saturday night.
With leading goal scorer Patrick Sharp and Tuomo Ruutu too ill to play and joined on the sidelines by fellow winger Jason Williams, who is out with a groin injury, the Oilers defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in a shootout in front of 16,839 at Rexall Place. The loss dropped the Hawks' record on their current six-game road trip to 2-1-2 but earned them a point in the standings.
"I don't think it was the best game we've played but it was nice to get that point," said Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith, whose goal at the 11-minute, 18-second mark of the third period tied the score 2-2 and sent it to overtime. "We came on toward the end, and at the end of the day points are important. There are lots of guys who are injured and we've got a lot of guys who are sick and even a lot of guys who are playing with the flu. Good teams find a way to come together when you have injuries and sicknesses like this."
The Oilers' deciding scores in the shootout were by rookie Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff over Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who stopped 29 shots during the game. The Hawks were 0-for-2 in the shootout.
"Heck of a game," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "We played a strong team game and we played really hard and we had lots of chances. It was a good hockey game."
The Hawks took a 1-0 lead when Jim Vandermeer scored his second goal of the season 43 seconds into the second period. With rookie Kris Versteeg providing traffic in front of Dwayne Roloson, Vandermeer blasted a slap shot from just inside the blue line into the net. Fellow defenseman James Wisniewski picked up an assist.
Ales Hemsky's seventh goal of the season tied it 1-1 with 7:47 remaining in the second. Hemsky took a pass from Denis Grebeshkov from behind the net and tapped it past Khabibulin.
Marty Reasoner took a pass from Kyle Brodziak and fired a one-timer past Khabibulin with 13:58 remaining in the third period to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead before Keith scored his fourth goal of the season as Adam Burish battled in front of the Edmonton net.
Ruutu missed the Hawks' morning skate with the flu but Sharp was hit with his illness shortly before the game and was sent back to the team hotel.
"The boys battled hard and had a good effort," said Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook, who had four shots on goal and a game-high four hits. "It wasn't the outcome we wanted but we got a point and I think everybody showed their true colors. We really battled and played hard. It's tough playing with new guys and new linemates for our forwards but I think they all played really well. It's tough losing guys an hour before the game."
The Hawks conclude their road trip Sunday night in Vancouver against the Canucks.
Ruutu and Sharp remained in Edmonton and will join the team in Vancouver on Sunday afternoon. The Hawks will make a game-time decision on whether they'll play. For insurance, the Hawks called up Petri Kontiola from Rockford of the American Hockey League and he will join the team in time for the Canucks game.