CHICAGO -- In the end, the Edmonton Oilers had a chance to make the most of a gift.
It is after all the season of giving.
Yet despite a late power play awarded to them when Brent Sopel fired the puck over the glass in his own zone, the Oilers could not score the goal which would have given them at least a point in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks last night.
'COULDN'T DO IT'
"We had a chance late to get it even, but we just couldn't do it," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.
"I liked our battle. As disappointed as I was in our last game that we let one slip away, we had to battle tonight, we battled hard, played our game and at the end of the day, you come up a little short. We made some mistakes and it cost us the hockey game, but we battled hard and we gave ourselves an opportunity to win."
Unfortunately for the Oilers, they may have lost more than a game to the Blackhawks. Ales Hemsky left the contest in the second period when Martin Lapointe took him out with a knee.
"It's sore, I'm going to have to go for an MRI and we'll see the results," Hemsky said.
"I really didn't see him, I don't know if he stuck out the knee or not. But it was a knee-on-knee and we'll see what happens."
The Blackhawks winger got a tripping penalty on the play and Hemsky had to be helped off the ice. He did not return. Zack Stortini went after Lapointe in the third period, getting in his second fight. In the first period Stortini fought Blackhawks winger Ben Eager.
"It was a dirty hit," said MacTavish.
"He threw his knee out at him. It should have easily been five (minutes). He didn't have the puck. It's interference, it's kneeing and how do you brace yourself and expect that type of hit?
"There's no need for a guy to do that. Now one of our best players is getting an x-ray after getting taken out by a guy that plays 10 minutes a game."
The loss dropped the Oilers two games under .500 heading into the Christmas break. But unlike their game against New Jersey on Friday, they did not feel as though they let this game get away despite having a first-period lead.
"I thought that was a better effort," said Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff.
"We had lot of chances and lots of opportunities in front; the puck is just not bouncing our way right now."
The Blackhawks opened the scoring in the first period when Brent Seabrook's shot from the point re-directed off Fernando Pisani's stick and bounced past Oilers goaltender Mathieu Garon.
The play originated when Jarret Stoll gave the puck away near the Blackhawks blue line trying to play it back to a teammate along the boards.
The Oilers tied the game with a power-play goal of their own as Tom Gilbert benefited from a fortunate bounce in front and slid it past Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
Andrew Cogliano was trying to centre the puck and after hitting a stick in front it ended up bouncing to Gilbert, who was unmarked coming in off the point. Later in the period, Dustin Penner gave the Oilers the lead when the puck bounced to him off the skate of Blackhawks centre Dave Bolland at the offensive blue line.
The Oilers winger went in, fended off Blackhawks defenceman Dustin Byfuglien and slid the puck between the pads of Khabibulin.
Seabrook scored the winner early in the third period, taking a pass from Robert Lang on a two-on-one break and blowing a shot past Garon.