The first regulation win of Anton Forsberg’s career was a big one for the goaltender and the Blackhawks.Forsberg made 32 saves, Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat scored in the first period, and the Blackhawks beat the slumping Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Sunday.Brandon Saad and Jordan Oesterle also scored for the Blackhawks (20-15-6), which got its first home win since a 4-1 victory against Minnesota on Dec. 17. Jonathan Toews extended his point streak to four games.Forsberg got his second win in just his 10th start of his first season with the Hawks. Forsberg had been the backup all year, but his role had come into question after Jeff Glass came up from the minors and played well with starter Corey Crawford sidelined by an upper-body injury.
”Obviously every goalie wants to play as much as possible, and I’m not any different there,” Forsberg said. ”I don’t think it’s any different now. I still want to play good, if (Crawford) is here or not. I’m trying to do my job as good as possible, same as before.”
Edmonton (18-22-3) has dropped six of seven, including a 5-1 loss at Dallas on Saturday. The Oilers have been outscored 20-3 in their last five games.
”It’s a humbling game,” forward Milan Lucic said. ”There are times we’re on Cloud 9 and times where we’re at the bottom of the barrel. I don’t think the last two games, probably more so yesterday than today, was a lack of effort. It’s just some minor mistakes that lead to big goals against.”
Darnell Nurse’s sharp-angled backhander trimmed the lead to 2-1 at 4:12 of the second. Jujhar Khaira got a look at the tying goal after Brent Seabrook’s turnover with about six minutes left in the period, but Forsberg smothered his shot.The Hawks top line of Vinnie Hinostroza, Toews and Saad then combined for a big play in the final seconds of the second. Hinostroza got the puck up to Toews, who muscled his way toward the net before shaking free for a shot that Saad deflected past Talbot at 19:50.Oesterle added his third of the season midway through the third. Talbot finished with 25 saves.
”We got beat in a number of areas, so that combined with the confidence level we have right now is very poor timing,” Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said. ”That didn’t set us up for a lot of success in the third.”
The Blackhawks were coming off a disappointing 5-4 loss to expansion Vegas on Friday night, prompting coach Joel Quenneville to shuffle his lineup for the final game of the first half of the season. Defensemen Connor Murphy and Cody Franson were benched in favor of Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta, and John Hayden was a healthy scratch with Ryan Hartman returning from an upper-body injury.The Blackhawks got off to a slow start against the Golden Knights and then blew a 4-3 lead in the third period. They were much better in the first against the Oilers.Schmaltz jumped on a loose puck and slipped a backhand through Talbot’s legs for a 1-0 lead at 8:03, extending his goal streak to three straight games with his 10th of the season. The Hawks then caught a break when DeBrincat’s centering pass went off the right skate of Edmonton forward Mark Letestu and past Talbot for the rookie’s 14th goal at 9:29.
”It’s huge, especially after last game,” Saad said. ”We weren’t happy with the way we played. Moving on here today, we knew this was a big game against a good team. I think we played a pretty good 60 minutes.”
NOTES—Quenneville had no update on Crawford and C Artem Anisimov, who also is out with an injury. Neither player has skated since they were placed on injured reserve.