Oilers-Blackhawks Preview

It’s been 11 months since the Chicago Blackhawks lost in
regulation, but they’ve suffered that fate in each of the last
three meetings with the Edmonton Oilers.

A fourth loss to the Oilers in such fashion would be their
longest such slide in the series in over 26 years.

The NHL-leading Blackhawks look to continue their dazzling run
by getting at least a point for the 25th consecutive regular-season
game Monday night when they host Edmonton.

Chicago (15-0-3) has already put together the best start in
league history without suffering a regulation defeat. The
Blackhawks last fell in three periods in a 6-1 loss to Nashville on
March 25, going 18-0-6 since.

That streak ranks third all-time in NHL history, four shy of
Montreal’s effort during the 1977-78 season and 11 short of
Philadelphia’s record from 1979-80.

Both of those teams reached the Stanley Cup finals.

For now, the Blackhawks would like to focus on beating the
Oilers (7-7-3) since they’ve lost each of the last three meetings
while surrendering 21 goals.

The Blackhawks dropped all four matchups with Edmonton during
2003-04, but that included an overtime defeat. They haven’t endured
a four-game regulation slide in the series since losing nine in a
row from Jan. 11, 1984-Oct. 21, 1986.

Chicago certainly enters this meeting with staggering momentum,
continuing its streak with Sunday’s 1-0 win over Columbus to
improve to 5-0-1 on this seven-game homestand.

“We’re playing to win,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Being on
the right side of pucks in a game like (Sunday) was a good test for
us.”

It’s unclear if Quenneville will go with Corey Crawford again
after he made 28 saves against the Blue Jackets in his return from
an upper-body injury that kept him out four games.

Crawford is 8-0-3 with a 1.50 goals-against average while backup
Ray Emery has a 2.10 GAA while winning each of his seven
starts.

Both, however, have struggled versus the Oilers, with Crawford
compiling a 5.75 GAA over the past three meetings while losing his
two starts. Emery has surrendered 10 goals on 40 shots over his two
appearances, losing his only start.

The Oilers are opening a nine-game road trip that includes
another visit to Chicago on March 10.

“I think you have to take it one game at a time,” left wing Ryan
Jones told the team’s official website. “When you look at the whole
road trip all together, it’s going to be a bit overwhelming. If you
approach every game as it is, it’s going to be a lot easier.”

Despite Edmonton’s recent success against the Blackhawks, Jones
certainly doesn’t think this time will be easy.

“The start that they’ve had is insane,” he said. “It’s something
that we have to work ourselves up for. They score by committee and
are extremely hard to play against at home because it’s so loud in
that building.”

Another strong performance from Jordan Eberle could get the trip
off to a strong start after he scored in regulation and the
shootout in Saturday’s 3-2 win over Phoenix.

The right wing leads the team with six goals, half of which he’s
scored in the past four games. He’s also been impressive in eight
career meetings with Chicago, scoring five goals while setting up
10 others.

Eberle has 13 of those points in the past five meetings,
including four in an 8-4 home win Feb. 2, 2012. That was still only
half of Sam Gagner’s production, as he managed career highs of four
goals and four assists.

Gagner’s 17 points on the season lead Edmonton.