Could the Chicago Black Hawks be for real? Until last Thursday night, the Edmonton Oilers had a 12-game playoff winning streak dating back to last year's Stanley Cup finals. Now, the defending Cup champions have a two-game playoff losing steak.

The Black Hawks defeated the Oilers, 8-6, tonight before 17,894 spectators at Chicago Stadium to tie their NHL semifinal at two games each.

"We didn't want them to think we played a lucky game and beat them one game," said Steve Larmer, who scored two Chicago goals. "We had to prove we could beat this team twice in a row."

Game 5 of the Campbell Conference final will be played Tuesday night in Edmonton, and Game 6 will be back in Chicago on Thursday. If a seventh game is necessary it would be in Edmonton on Saturday.

Starting the third period with a 6-4 lead, the Hawks got clinching goals from Larmer, his second of the game, and Bob Murray. After Murray's, Edmonton Coach Glen Sather replaced goalie Grant Fuhr with Andy Moog.

Edmonton's Glenn Anderson scored with 3:19 left in the game, with an assist from Wayne Gretzky to make it 8-5. Then with 2:15 left and Moog out of the net, Mark Messier scored his second goal of the game, from Gretzky and Paul Coffey to cut the Hawks' lead to two goals. But it wasn't enough.

The Black Hawks started the game without three key players. Defensemen Doug Wilson (groin pull) and Keith Brown (hip pointer) skated gingerly Saturday but couldn't go tonight.

Forward Bill Gardner, one of Chicago's best penalty-killers, suffered torn knee ligaments in the first period of Thursday night's victory on a check by the Oilers' Jaroslav Pouzar.

"I feel awfully proud," Chicago Coach Bob Pulford said. "Any team would miss (Wilson, Brown and Gardner), but the other fellows took up the slack."

With just 1:42 gone in the first period, six players, three from each team, went to the penalty box.

Edmonton's Kevin Lowe and Coffey got minors, as did Tom Lysiak and Jack O'Callahan for Chicago. Mark Napier and and Rick Paterson got five minutes each for fighting. Oiler Dave Semenko and Black Hawk Behn Wilson got five for fighting and 10-minute misconduct penalites.

After all the sentencing was complete, each side had three skaters, but the Oilers had the advantage.

Gretzky is best on open ice, which is exactly what he had when he scored on a breakaway at 2:52, beating Murray Bannerman to the goalie's right for a 1-0 lead. Gretzky had been shut out Thursday night for the first time in 38 games.

The Black Hawks got right back in the game at 4:23 when captain Darryl Sutter scored his 10th goal of the playoffs with assists from O'Callahan and Bannerman, who also had an assist in Game 3.

At 9:50, the Black Hawks' Ed Olczyk scored a short-handed goal, beating Fuhr with a 40-foot slap shot. Olczyk's sixth goal of the playoffs was assisted by Troy Murray.

This scoring frenzy continued 62 seconds later. The Oilers' Messier scored unassisted after a scramble for the puck.

Savard got his eighth goal of the playoffs, assisted by Larmer and Marc Bergevin, by coming down the right wing before cutting in front of the goal to beat Fuhr with a backhand to put the Hawks up, 3-2. Pouzar tied the score at 3, when his shot from high in the slot beat Bannerman at 17:20.

Then Chicago's Curt Fraser got his sixth playoff goal at 18:17 after Troy Murray sent a pass across the slot that allowed Fraser to beat a sliding Fuhr to give the Black Hawks a 4-3 lead.

Chicago took a 5-3 lead when Al Secord scored with 25 seconds left in the period. The power-play goal, with Lee Fogolin off for slashing, was set up by a beautiful pass from Savard to Secord, who was camped out just in front of the Oilers' net.

Chicago's lead was cut to one at 10:20 of the second period when Bannerman let a shot by Willy Lindstrom through his legs.

The Black Hawks got a power play when Gretzky went off at 11:59 for tripping Olczyk. Larmer scored on a slap shot at 12:57 to make it 6-4.