Oilers-Hurricanes Preview

The Edmonton Oilers have proven they can beat the defending

Stanley Cup champions. It’s the rest of the league that is giving

them trouble.

The Oilers, owners of the fewest points in the Western

Conference, again look to build on an impressive road victory over

the reigning champs when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes on

Tuesday night.

Edmonton (4-6-2) has only two wins in its last 10 games, but

both have come over Chicago at the United Center.

The Oilers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 7-4 victory

over the Blackhawks on Oct. 29, then proceeded to return to

Edmonton, where they dropped back-to-back games to Vancouver and

Detroit.

The Oilers traveled back to Chicago on Sunday to open a

five-game road trip and rallied to beat the Blackhawks 2-1 behind

goals from Kurtis Foster and Sam Gagner 14 seconds apart in the

third period.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Gagner, whose three goals this

season have all come against Chicago. “Playing the defending

Stanley Cup champions, it’s a great feeling to get a win.”

The Oilers, who have a West-low 10 points, improved to 2-2-2

away from Edmonton after going 2-20-2 in their final 24 road games

last season.

“We’re trying to remain humble and within ourselves and not get

too crazy here,” coach Tom Renney said. “We’re definitely a work in

progress. We just have to make sure we understand how we did this,

and how we can continue to do it moving forward.”

Strong play from goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and the penalty

killing unit appear to be the biggest reasons for the Oilers’

limited success.

Edmonton denied Chicago on all three of its chances with the man

advantage Sunday, and has killed 15 of 17 power plays (88.2

percent) in its four victories, compared to stopping 24 of 38 (63.2

percent) in the eight defeats.

The Oilers will look to keep up the strong defense against a

Hurricanes team that is 2 for 26 on the man advantage (7.7 percent)

in its last five games.

Khabibulin made 26 saves Sunday, including two from point-blank

range off the sticks of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in a matter

of seconds with less than six minutes remaining.

“The best teams in the league have goaltending at critical

times,” Renney told the Oilers’ official website. “Khabi is all

about that and completely capable of that any time.”

Khabibulin, who has started all but one game for Edmonton this

season, hasn’t faced the Hurricanes since Dec. 13, 2005, when he

stopped 31 shots for the Blackhawks in a 5-3 loss.

The Oilers defeated Carolina 4-2 at home Feb. 1 in the only

meeting last season and also won their last game at the RBC Center,

3-1 on Nov. 1, 2008.

The Hurricanes (7-7-0) are hoping to carry some momentum from

Saturday’s 3-2 win over Florida after being embarrassed one night

earlier in a 7-4 road loss to the Panthers.

“It was a better effort from everybody,” said captain Eric

Staal, who had two goals. “We wanted to respond the right way and

we did.”

Cam Ward made 18 saves for the Hurricanes, who haven’t won

back-to-back games since the first two of the season, while Jeff

Skinner had a goal and an assist.

Skinner has five goals and seven assists to lead all rookies

with 12 points.

Edmonton’s Taylor Hall, the first pick in this year’s draft, has

three goals and three assists with all the goals coming in his last

five games.