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How decimated Blackhawks held Connor McDavid's Oilers to season-low 15 shots on goal

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The Chicago Blackhawks have seven players on injured reserve that have a combined salary cap of $34 million, and they put together their best defensive performance of the season against one of the most explosive offenses in the Edmonton Oilers.

The Blackhawks held the Oilers to only 15 shots on goal, which was by far a season-low. Edmonton's previous low was 23, which it had done twice. 

It was the first time all season the Blackhawks held a team to under 20 shots in a game. Their previous season-low was 20, which came on Nov. 19 in a 3-2 loss to Buffalo.

The Blackhawks also limited the Oilers to just six high-danger chances total, per Natural Stat Trick. For context, the Oilers average 15.1 high-danger chances per 60 minutes, which leads the NHL. Their previous low in a game was nine.

How did the Blackhawks do it? Without their No. 1 center Connor Bedard, No. 1 defenseman Seth Jones and other key players?

"I just think the work ethic and skating," Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said. "We just harped on the guys to be on top of them. Any time we weren’t on top of them — just once or twice a little bit of awareness when 97’s out there, with his speed, he just needs a second to be forgotten about and he’s going to make something happen and he did — other than that, I thought we did a really good job of close checking.

"I thought we were really frustrating them a couple times, their good players. And that’s good. That’s good for us. I think we were playing the right way, we just couldn’t get that second goal."

The Blackhawks probably knew they weren't going to win a run-and-gun kind of game against the Oilers, so they kept it low scoring and tried grinding one out. They fell short in a 2-1 loss but it's hard to knock the effort.

"I think for the better part of the game we were on top of them, we weren't letting them get their speed going," Joey Anderson said. "And when they were in our zone, we kept them to the outside and did a good job blocking shots and fronting them and putting them in spots they didn't want to be in and I think that led to them maybe trying things differently, turning pucks over a little bit. 

"It helps Petr [Mrazek] see shots and creates less second, third opportunities for them. We defended hard tonight. We would've liked to get a couple more goals but we played hard."

A huge part of the successful defensive effort came from Jason Dickinson, who went up against Connor McDavid for most of the night. In fact, 12:40 of McDavid's 20:49 even-strength minutes were against Dickinson.

Dickinson held McDavid and his line to only one scoring chance in those nearly 13 minutes of action. The Blackhawks generated three of their own.

While McDavid scored a goal — and had one taken away due to goaltender interference and an assist wiped off because of an offside challenge by Chicago — Dickinson, who opened the scoring with his 14th goal of the season, held his own against the best player in the world.

"He's an extremely good player," Dickinson said. "It goes without saying. I think everybody knows that. It's a challenge. It's one I love. I love when we get these games because I know it's going to be a fight and I know he's going to give me everything and he knows that I'm going to be on top of him the whole game to make it hard for him. It creates a good little battle for us."

All in all, it was a great all-around effort for the Blackhawks, who should be getting more bodies back in the near future. Tuesday is as good of a defensive performance as you'll from the Blackhawks all season long.

"It goes back to just our work ethic," Dickinson said. "I think everybody was working well above pucks, tracking back, making sure that we limited speed, made sure we limited their entry. They're a rush team that likes to attack on 3-on-2s, 2-on-1s, isolating our D-men, and we did a good job of protecting them. We gave up a handful. Obviously they got that one that was called back.

"Other than that, it felt like we were able to keep them to the outside, limit their speed and those opportunities."

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